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Unfinished business

Brian Taylor | 12:40 UK time, Tuesday, 15 January 2008

For Patrick Harvie MSP, it is an exercise in tidying the law. Nevertheless, it is an issue that still has potential to cause political division.

What am I talking about? The proposal that there should be heavier sentences imposed upon those who commit offences motivated by discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Mr Harvie, one of only two Green MSPs, is a serious political player. His Holyrood contributions always repay inspection. He is more inclined to make progress than to make gestures.

So, when he tried in the previous parliament to extend enhanced protection to gay and lesbian people, among others, he attracted attention.

But, according to Mr Harvie, sundry indications of executive sympathy didn’t translate into practical legislative action. He suspects there was an outbreak of chilled pedal extremities, caused by the approach of an election.

Now, the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said he will support Mr Harvie’s proposed change to the law.

This will “extend statutory aggravations to cover crimes motivated by malice or ill will towards victims based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability”.

Broadly, this extends the “hate crime” provision which already covers offences motivated by racial or religious prejudice.

Unfinished business, says Patrick Harvie. Bringing Scotland into line with provisions in England.

Others, however, are not so sure. The Tories, for example, says the new law makes some “more equal than others”.

They argue that attacks on gay people should be prosecuted with vigour - as should all criminal behaviour. Distinctive provision is not required.

Indidivual members of other parties may harbour the same uncertainty. I suspect, however, that the measure will succeed, particularly with Scottish Government backing.


  • 1.
  • At 01:06 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Derek McKay wrote:

some problems with with hate crime. Any violent action by a black man on a white man, or vice versa could be considered a hate crime. And it's possible that the prosecution could make it look like one.
this will be the problem for the gay/lesbian discrimination. Yes, I'm sure some attacks would be caused by that. But there is no reason to punish any more because of it. An attack is still a serious crime and it will be punished as such, regardless of who it was against.

  • 2.
  • At 01:13 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Megan wrote:

The whole concept of treating some crimes as more serious because of their motivation is repugnant. What makes me more evil when I thump you because you are white or straight than when I thump you because I just feel like it?

  • 3.
  • At 01:20 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Donnie wrote:

Eminently sensible. It won't be a seismic shift but who can seriously defend bigotry of any sort in this day and age?

The Tories should refrain from making nonsensical statements.

If someone was beaten up for being gay, this law would apply. If someone was beaten up for being straight, this law would also apply. The wording is "on the grounds of sexual orientation", not "on the grounds of being gay".

It looks like the Tories are once again operating under 'opposition for the sake of opposition'.

  • 5.
  • At 01:39 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Alan wrote:

If there has to be a list of groups against which a crime is regarded as worse because of the motive, then this is the right move. However, I've never been convinced that someone should be regarded as a worse offender because of their motivation rather than their intention to commit a crime and their committing of that crime. It's a pretty silly legal system that has to define individual hate-crime target groups. If someone hates you because of the group you DO belong to and then assaults you, but the group is not one of those specifically identified in law, then the crime is not aggravated. Does that really make sense?

  • 6.
  • At 01:47 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Rhona wrote:

I am gay and I don't agree with creating a specific crime of 'gay hate', if it means stiffer sentences or more thorough investigation or pursuing of alleged offences.

I do not deserve greater protection from the law than anyone else; someone who might commit an offence against me related to the fact that I am gay does not deserve a tougher sentence.

What does this mean? If a man rapes me because he wants to teach a dyke a lesson, should get a worse sentence than if he'd 'only' raped me because I was crossing a park late at night?

This isn't euality, it's just unfair.

  • 7.
  • At 01:59 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • K Chambers wrote:

Not really sure of a need for specific "hate crime" laws. If all violent crimes were stamped out, they would be unneccesary.

Surely the time and effort spent on this type of "trendy" legislation could be better spent on improving society in general.

  • 8.
  • At 02:38 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

As a gay man I am torn apart by this proposal as I have great sympathy for the view that a physical attack is a crime to be punished regardless. But the people from Scotland's LGBT community are far more likely to be targeted by antisocial members of our society who are prone to indulge in physical attacks on other members of society.

I have been assaulted before and never once was it a 'wrong place wrong time' situation it was a premedidated attack based on my sexuality. I would support the change in Scottish law to reflect those in England and Wales.

  • 9.
  • At 02:40 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Naomi wrote:

We as a society recognise that there are certain groups more at risk of violence on the basis of their identity than others. This is why we already have hate crime legislation against racist and sectarian hate crime. There are people who go out to attack people because they are black, or because they are Catholic. Similarly, people target gay and disabled people.

This is different from "general" violence in society because it stems from an intolerance of and inequality of certain groups in society which in some warped people's minds leads them to think that their violence is justified.

Having a specific law gives a name to this particular problem (and according to LGBT and disability groups this is a problem) and seeks to address it. I wish people would stop having knee-jerk reactions to what are sensible provisions which address real-life problems. NB. The police are backing this.

This isn't about taking rights away from anyone or treating anyone "less equal". It is about acknowledging the discrimination in our society that sometimes manifests itself as violence, and addresses it.

Yes, Bill Aitken, some people are more equal than others, and as a white, heterosexual, Western male you should know and benefit from that more than most.

  • 10.
  • At 02:43 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Sandra wrote:

Surely a crime against any individual is a crime? It does not need to be 'classified' as against straight, gay, back, white, pink, one-legged,sky-blue pink, spotted, or whatever. To classify something in this way, gives it a certain kudos, which is contrary to the intention surely? Any crime is a crime and should only be classified as to its type eg burglary, assault,knife, gun etc.
As #6, K.Chambers says maybe too 'trendy'.

  • 11.
  • At 02:52 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Englander wrote:

If we are to have race hate crime legislation, then this is presumably the next step. In both cases, the victim is unable to change that which is being targeted. It becomes farcical however when this is applied to religion, which will happen within the next 5 years. If I am black or gay there is nothing anyone can do about it, however if I choose to believe in a particular religion that is clearly my own decision, and I should be able to robustly defend it, rather than hide behind laws that prevent discussion.

  • 12.
  • At 02:54 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Duncan wrote:

Your son or grandson gets attacked by evil scum and is left seriously injured - is it just that when the assailants get sentenced their reasons for the attack are taken into account and they are treated more leniently because the crime was not due to race, sexual orientation or any other minority? I think not - I believe it is an infringement of our human rights not to be treated with equality under the law.

Duncan Ayrshire

  • 13.
  • At 03:01 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Cocteau8 wrote:

Obviously assaults on anyone are to be deplored, but there is something particularly abhorrent if the motivating factor behind the assault is the victim's colour, sexual orientation, disability etc. Such attacks based upon this prejudice may have a deeper and more negative impact upon the victim, but will also have a greater impact upon the community from which the victim comes and who will feel at greater risk as it will be something that is integral to them which may make them a target. With this in mind a sentence may have the twofold impact of punishing the perpetrator but also demonstrating to possible future perpetrators that such crimes based upon the hatred of a whole community of people will be dealt with accordingly.

  • 14.
  • At 03:03 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Iain Miller wrote:

I think what we should all remember is that the law has a wider function than merely punishing criminals. This change will send a message that society is changing, and that the attitudes which result in crimes against gay people are no longer reconcilable with progressive legal policy.

Paradoxically, K Chambers should consider that it is this very type of what (s)he refers to as "trendy legislation" which has the greatest potential to effect societal change. I am an atheist, but i fully support the fact that religiously aggravated crimes should be treated with greater severity - it's the founding attitudes that the law is attacking, not the tangible criminal activity.


  • 15.
  • At 03:05 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Karen wrote:

But isn't the whole point of this that the named groups are seen as targeted more often for violent attacks - because in addition to the risk of violence we all face, they face additional risks due to bigotry?

I also find it interesting that the bill will protect people with disabilities, but we don't see the same accusations regarding them expecting "special treatment". Should they be expected to just shrug their shoulders if someone hatefully attacks them because of their disability? Of courses not - the people who do this deserve all they get. I get the feeling that even the Tories would feel able to vote against this.

However, turn the topic to "sexual orientation" and it suddenly becomes fair game. Is this because few people are willing to countenance attacks against people with disabilities, but a lot of people still harbour hatred of "gays" - and presumably feel that "they" get what "they deserve"? If this law stops one person from attack or murder on the basis of their sexual orientation then it will be well worthwhile. We will never stamp out violent crime, but if we can stop some of the repulsive bigots from praying on the weaker members of society then that has to be a good thing.

Extend the protection to more groups to the law later if necessary. Or do we wait another ten years until we can be 100% sure that we have the full extensive list and just put up with the suffering in the meantime?

I commend Patrick Harvie for this move, I have nothing but respect for him and his party (and any MSP willing to support it). Oh, and it should go without saying, I have utter contempt for those who will stand up for the right of violent people to go around attacking minorities.

  • 16.
  • At 03:07 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Dee wrote:

Of course it is wrong that this should have to be considered - all violent attacks MUST be punnished vigourously irrespective of 'motivation'. Unfortunately, there are certain groups who may be more 'at risk' of attack, I am a transexual and never feel safe in public - is the purpose of the intended law to send a very clear message to those who have trouble in accepting me? If it does this, then, as wrong as it may seem to be, it will serve a useful purpose.

  • 17.
  • At 03:36 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Ross McLean wrote:

I hope Mr McAskill can persuade ALL of his MSPs to support this. The SNP's support for gay equality in the past has not always been universal.

  • 18.
  • At 03:40 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Cocteau8 wrote:

I agree I Miller. Whilst I too am an atheist and cannot see the logic to worshipping a deity I would not stop people from doing so if it is fundamental to their lives, and I see no reason why people of a particular religious community should live in fear by virtue of being targetted solely as a result of their religion and with them being more vulnerable because they are excluded from hate crime legislation. Furthermore, I should add that for some people there is a choice in being or not being religious, but there is no choice in being of that religion. I refer here to religions that are based not solely on believes but also on ethnic origins, e.g. Judaism. I stopped being a practising Jew many years ago, but I can never stop being Jewish, nor can I stop looking Jewish. I could never stop, therefore, being a potential victim of a nazi sympathiser ... and they do still exist.

  • 19.
  • At 04:21 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Derek McKay wrote:

but the problem is 'equality'. As has been said before...the old communist tagline, 'some are more equal than others'. How can there possibly be equality when minorities, regardless of their dilhema's, are treated differently?

If a gay man and starts causing trouble and you respond by calling him names and then getting into a fight doesnt mean you're against homosexuality and should get punished more. If a fat guy knocked over my drink and I got angry and said "watch it tubs" doesn't mean I'm against fat people.

Ready for the old cliche? "Political Correctness gone mad"

  • 20.
  • At 04:22 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Stewart Geddes wrote:

Do those people who support this change in the law really think that it will make a blind bit of difference to whether they are assaulted or to the fear of assault?

The fact is that the existing laws already exists to deal with this issue. Those people unacceptable as they are, who are likely to carry out such an attack will not be detered by a different law with a different penalty. Better for the police to enforce the law more rigourously than waste your time with more legislation that only serves to confuse the issue.

Consider this. We introduce a new law, someone is attacked and the assailant is charged with assault under the new law. Any lawyer worth his salt will only have to introduce doubt that the assault was motivated by Gay or other such hate and the assailant gets off. On the other hand, just charge someone with assault, and they will be found guilty (and sentenced)- assuming it can be shown they were the assailant.

  • 21.
  • At 04:43 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • David wrote:

I think people make interesting points here about whether all crimes should be treated equally regardless of motive. But I also find it more abhorent that someone should be the victim of a premeditated attack based on their belonging to one group or another. This takes away the element of randomness in assaults and ensures that membership of a certain group in society increases the dangers of wandering the streets, particularly for gay people in my opinion. If we have these laws regarding racism and indeed I believe also regarding religiously motivated attacks then gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and disabled people should also be included. To be honest I find it unusual that any of the law abiding or non prejudiced amongst us should have any objection to harsher sentences for criminals anyway.

  • 22.
  • At 04:49 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • CassiusClaymore wrote:

Not sure that you can ever successfully defeat discrimination by introducing a new, different form of discrimination (ie against heterosexual victims).

All crimes are hate crimes and should be treated as such.

  • 23.
  • At 04:53 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Steve Edwards wrote:

Englander, plenty of people have changed their sexual orientation. I wonder if there will come a time when people like Michael Glatze and Charlene Cothran, former homosexual prominent homosexual activists who recanted, will not be allowed to help others live a normal life.

  • 24.
  • At 05:56 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Sandra wrote:

Karen I do not think anyone is standing for violence against anyone. I just do not see that violence against an individual is acceptable, whatever the 'reason'.
And Dee there are many groups who feel exceptionally vulnerable out and about. There are many areas where I as a female, feel very unsafe. Why should there be 'no go' areas for anyone?
Maybe what needs tightening up, is the LAW for everyone.

  • 25.
  • At 05:57 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • R Duncan wrote:

Why should there be heavier sentences for this? A crime is a crime no matter who it is against and the punishment should be equal.The PC police are attempting to strike again!! White hetrosexual married people in this country who pay taxes and abide by the law are soon to be in the minority.

The law is to protect everyone we should not go down the road of implementing new laws to cater for individual groups. If we do i think a law should be introduced to implement heavier sentences on gay people who beat up straight people!!!!

  • 26.
  • At 06:00 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • douglas wrote:

I it take if a gay man attacks a straight man because he is straight the same aggravation will apply? Assault is assault. Legislation like this which on the face of it values some sectors of society more favourably than others only gives the extremists an excuse for their behaviour. Perhaps our MSP's should be more concerned about the meltdown in the road networks, teachers being assaulted by pupils who refuse to allow themselves to be educated, feckless parents who continually breed with no intention or prospects of offering their offspring a decent childhood. Mr Harvie, assault is already a crime, move on and deal with the real problems of our nation of neds before the lunatics take over the asylum. But then attacking the problems caused by the feckless wouldn't be very "right-on" would it.

  • 27.
  • At 06:09 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Colin MacDonald wrote:

Didn't South Park debunk this? All crimes motivated by "malice or ill will" are axiomatically hate crimes. Mens rea is established by Harvie's definition!

What behaviour does Harvie think that this legislation will promote or prevent? A drunken ned on a rampage will pause to verify that his victims have the same sexual preferences and mental faculties? Not on planet Earth, I think.

Ah, never mind, it's a futile argument. As long as it's still OK to persecute gingies and hippies, I'm happy.

  • 28.
  • At 06:20 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Cole wrote:

Legislating about what is going on in a person's mind is a very real concern when considering legal sanctions for hate crimes. Additionally, the idea that all violent crime is deserving of equal abhorance and equal punishment is a standpoint of merit. After all, all humans are equal, particularly in the eyes of the law.

However, in a court investigating a hate crime the intention of the attackers to have chosen their victim based upon a discriminatory notion (race, religion, gender identity, etc.) must be proved. In order for this deliberate hateful intention to be proved in court, there has to have been evidence of it. The specific hateful intent must have been pronounced to another person, persons or made clear record of.

It is THERE that society and the law have seen fit to impose harsher sanctions against perpitrators. Publicly expressing discrimination by assaulting a member of a group is a compounded attack; both upon an individual and by immediate extension a pronounced threat of violence to all others within the group. It is also, in spirit, a violation of the anti-hate speech laws the UK has found widely neccessary to protect the rights of individuals to live free of fear based upon discrimination. Making a statement to the effect 'Gays deserve a kicking' on a sandwich board, contrasted with kicking an identified homosexual person are matters of different callibre, but embody the same ill-spirit which damages Britain on the fronts of social-diversity and individual rights.

To take an example - stabbing a person for reasons of personal dislike or the purposes of random violence is an attack against that one individual. Stabbing a person for being a Buddhist and making that fact known well enough to be proven in court is an attack upon that one individual, a threat of violence upon other Buddhists, and a pronouncement to society that buddhists essentially ought to be stabbed.

The additional facets of the action in turn warrant additional sanctions in order to clarify the disdain of those the law represents for such pronouncements.

Discrimination against and between groups exists in clear evidence in all parts of the UK and the law recognizes the need to adress it in the form of it's legislation regarding hate speech, hiring practices, employee and customer treatment and education. To not apply that sentiment comprehensively to cases in criminal law where violence has been invoked under the banner of discrimination would be remiss - as surely it is those cases where it is to be most strongly reacted against.

I have to confess my attitude to this issue has been changed by a recent column by Matthew Parris. Matthew is, of course, a distinguished member of the gay community; he writes that cyclists should be beheaded, merely for being cyclists.

Before reading that article, I would have agreed that homosexuals deserved special protection. In fact, I have in the past campaigned for homosexuals to have special protection. But what we have here is an attack on another minority group, simply for being a minority; it does not in any way differ from prejudiced verbal attacks on homosexuals, which foster the attitude that 'queer bashing' is OK.

To have a situation in which homosexuals can call for the beheading of cyclists, but cyclists cannot call for the beheading of homosexuals, is manifestly unjust. But beyond that, in a well ordered society, every minority should be - equally - protected. Singling out homosexuals for special protection is a step in the wrong direction.

  • 30.
  • At 06:48 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

It seems that a white heterosexual male who does not make claims of being oppressed on religious grounds is the odd man out in our society; everybody else seems to have additional laws either on the statute books or have new legislation in the process of being to be enacted into law.

How long will it be before this isolated group itself become the target of those with their own specific protection, claiming as they often do to have been targeted by that minority who remain vulnerable and undefended in law.

  • 31.
  • At 07:51 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Mark Craig wrote:

Once you start singling some groups out for protection it's difficult to deny other groups. Assaults on the grounds of race or religion are already treated as aggravated offences. I'm sure that most people would consider this to be fair.

As the current law stands, if I was beaten up coming out of football ground wearing a certain team's scarf it would be treated as an aggravated assault. If the same person assaulted me coming out of a gay bar then it wouldn't be treated as an aggravated assault. Same victim, same attacker, same injuries; different offence and different penalty. Where is the fairness in that?

Yes it may end up that the only group not protected are young, white men (who happen to be the victims of most attacks, and also the perpetrators of offences). But once you protect some groups it's hard to make a valid case for not protecting others.

  • 32.
  • At 08:03 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Fiona Chalmers wrote:

In a "perfect world" there would be no need for the consideration of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender in the consideration of crime (oxymoron I know) but this is far from a perfect world.

Hate crimes stem from irrationality of the individual but as has been noted before sometimes that same irrationality extends to others in society.

If I, as a transgendered person, am verbally abused in the street simply because my presentation is not of that my birth gender then that is an issue of hate, if I am subsequently assaulted then what is that act?

I only assume that if I present in my birth gender- a 6 foot, slim, male in a business suit or bike leathers then I might be marginally less likely to be abused, or attacked.

Like it or not there are crimes that stem from societal issues- racism, sectarianism, homophobia and one of the ways to demonstrate that our society has matured to the point that such attitudes are no longer tolerated is to legislate.

I'm only grateful that, for a change, Transgendered people are included in the proposal

  • 33.
  • At 12:57 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Robert Allan wrote:

Crime is crime!

Making any group special or any motive for commiting a crime is purely a Politically Correct move.
I for one am sick of politicial and special interest groups influencing our legal system.

Beating up a homosexual for being homosexual is no more morally repugnant than beating up a fat guy for being fat or a loud mouth for having the unfortunate personality that makes one a loud mouth.

  • 34.
  • At 01:09 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • David wrote:

Scotland is not, never has been and most likely will never be a particularly gay-friendly, cultural, cosmopolitan or tolerant country. I doubt that these miserable and vicious attitudes towards those who are different can be 'legislated away'. Perhaps the only option is to 'move away' ....

  • 35.
  • At 02:14 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Linchfield wrote:

People who think it is ok to verbally abuse gay people on a regular basis, victimise and attack gay men and women purely because of their sexuality have essentially felt justified (in some warped manner).

It is only right that the law recognises that because of someones sexuality an attack is repulsive as that on someone if they were black or asian - purely because they have different colour skin. A message must be sent to those who think gay bashing is ok, that they will feel the full force of the law if they do carry out homophobic attacks as a sort of entertainment (as many do).

Apart fom anything else - when did you hear/read about a straight woman or straight man get kicked in the head unconcious for being straight?

No - me neither!

  • 36.
  • At 07:14 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Wansanshoo wrote:

A systemic failure by our courts to intern fledgling criminals is the root cause of society's current state, had the law been implemented properly and the Government actually built the neccessary prison space required, we as a society would nullify the need to discuss discriminatory laws such as the on proposed.

It is in prison and prison alone, that criminals pose no threat to society.

On the basis that I am not 'Gay' may I have a pecentage of my £14257.22 tax contribution returned to me on the grounds that I do not qualify for preferential treatment under the current proposal ?


  • 37.
  • At 07:29 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • TomDKGreen wrote:

Spend a few minutes looking at the Matthew Shepard killing in Laramie.
The killing and the aftermath showed not only the killers guilty of an obviously sexually orientated hate crime, but showed some of society's bigotry in dealing with it. It is fair to argue that all crimes of violence against the person should be prosecuted, but the Shepard case was a good one to show that the crime would not have been committed at all without Matthew's sexuality- surely that merits an extra punishment?

  • 38.
  • At 09:44 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Dunk wrote:

This proposed change in the law makes no sense. If I am the victim of a motiveless attack and get two arms broken, my assailants will get a more lenient sentence than those who attack a gay person and only break one of his arms. I'm not going to like that.
Harvie and MacAskill are modern-day incarnations of the 'unco guid', puritans desperate to show how morally superior they are to the rest of us. They're contorting themselves into absurd positions.

This is not a new law, in the sense of a new kind of crime. It is a mechanism for flagging existing crimes as hate motivated, so that the sheriff can take that into account in sentencing (and can spot from the records if the accused has done this before).

There's no requirement that the sentence is heavier - the sheriff decides what's appropriate. It could be some kind of appropriate community sentence that could address the attacker's prejudices.

Stewart Geddes (20) - if the hate motive is not proven in court, the person is not acquitted. They are convicted of the crime (assault, vandalism, etc) but without the hate motive being recorded.

A range of factors, including motives, have long been taken into account by sheriffs in setting sentence. This bill brings more consistency to that for hate crimes, bringing homophobic and disability hate crimes into line with the existing law for racist and religious crimes.

Bottom line - LGBT and disabled people are much more likely to be attacked, because of who we are. It's right that the law should deal with crime hotspots in focussed ways - another example is the Emergency Workers Act, which deals specifically with attacks on ambulance workers etc.

  • 40.
  • At 11:51 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Tony wrote:

@21- Steve Edwards
"recanted"? "normal"? A shocking slip which exposes your latent views.

Back to topic... If this law simply affects the length of sentencing, then I'm all for it. Society should do all it can to rid itself of narrow-minded attitudes. If this means that a judge can extend sentencing where there is evidence of the crime being motivated by such attitudes, then great. It doesn't mean that the converse is true, or that as #20 worries, it is a 'new law'.

I'm surprised by the Tories here. Clearly such legislation should be very carefully and cautiously considered, but it should not be dismissed out of hand.
If we are to follow the logic of 'a crime is a crime' to its logical conclusion, then we would treat shoplifters and murderers equally. But we don't. We allow the judiciary to consider the sentencing based on society's priorities.
Creating an equal society is a noble aim. If this requires more severe sentencing on those who stand in the way of that aim, then so be it. It doesn't mean those who commit other crimes won't receive the same sentencing they always have.

  • 41.
  • At 12:09 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Claire wrote:

Patrick Harvey is a gem. He worked at the LGBT centre in Glasgow around 10 years ago and his positive attitude rubbed off on all of us who were confused and struggling and..had been victims of violence because of our sexuality...It's great to see that when he has a chance to promote change his increased influence has not weakened his principles one bit.

I agree with Naomi and Karen...

Megan says "The whole concept of treating some crimes as more serious because of their motivation is repugnant". But that is what the law has always done. If someone thumps you because they are mentally ill and genuinely believe you are about to kill them, even if that's manifestly untrue, then they are not punished for thumping you at all.

  • 43.
  • At 01:19 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Gordon wrote:

Hate crimes are in essence thought crimes so hate crimes legislation is thought crime legislation - Orwell would have been so proud of us for making it come true.

  • 44.
  • At 01:33 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Joseph wrote:

It's fairly apparent that crimes caused by intolerance of someone's religion, race, sexual orientation etc are repugnant in any civilised society.

However, the Criminal Justice system already takes into account aggravating and mitigating circumstances before sentencing individuals for all crimes. i.e. such as those based on the intolerances mentioned earlier.

Won't the current trend to create 'hate crimes' in certain categories simply create inequality where the motivation behind the crime doesn't fit neatly into any of the new laws?

Believe it or not but defence solicitors will start to present the fact that an assault was carried out without any intolerant/racist/bigoted motive as some sort of mitigating factor in respect of the convicted.

  • 45.
  • At 03:35 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Robbie wrote:

Attacks based on membership of any identified group, be it one of religion, race, orientation or whatever, are attacks not only on individuals but on the concept of free and open society. Such attacks are designed to create a hierarchy of identities and to challenge the notion that all people are equal.

They are also attempts to force people to conform - If someone is attacked for being gay than all gay people are being threatened and encouraged to hide the orientation with all the ill effects that carries for the individuals and society as whole. It differs little from the lynchings in 1930s’ America which were intended to discourage others from challenging segregation.

To my mind any attack based of membership of a particular group is in addition to the offence against the person, an assault on all other members of that group and should therefore be considered a worse offence.

  • 46.
  • At 04:01 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Gib wrote:

As a victim of serious homophobic hate on more than one occasion i am in full support of this news. I hope now the police will be more efficient in their investigations and less likely to be swayed by comments such as "he came onto me" which even if that statement was true should not justify assault.
I have been the victim of this excuse when i was merely walking home. You can change the law yes, but the problem lies with changing the views of those who uphold the law.

  • 47.
  • At 04:19 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Duncan wrote:

Paul Joseph at 01.33pm
'Apart fom anything else - when did you hear/read about a straight woman or straight man get kicked in the head unconcious for being straight?'
I got a good kicking once just because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm not gay so what's the difference? What happens if a straight bloke gets attacked because his attacker thinks he's gay? An 'oversight'? An 'honest mistake'?
You can't have one law for some members of society and another law for others (Politicians please take note!)

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