A new network of liaison officers has been established by Police Scotland to improve the reporting of LGBT hate crimes.
Speaking at the start of Hate Crime Awareness Week Scotland’s top police officer, Phil Gormley, said he was determined to eradicate all forms of hatred in Scotland.
Mr Gormley said: “Every incident has a significant impact on the victim, their family and wider communities.
“I am asking the people of Scotland to continue to work with us to ensure every incident is reported to the police.
“We recognise that hate crime often goes unreported and there are many reasons why people don’t come forward and raise their concerns, but we must work together to ensure hate crime has no place in our communities.
“Hate crime can manifest itself in lots of different ways, for example offensive graffiti, having your property vandalised, having your belongings stolen, people swearing or making abusive remarks making you feel intimidated or harassed, through online abuse, being threatened or being physically attacked.
“All of this behaviour is completely unacceptable and, whether criminal or not, Police Scotland wants to know about it in order to avoid behaviour escalating and being unchallenged.”
As offences based on disability, sexuality, race, religion or sexual orientation often go unreported, senior officers want people to be aware they can use third-party reporting through a list of charities and community groups.
About 90 officers have trained with the Equality Network to help prevent such crimes.
Equality Network director Tim Hopkins called on the LGBTI community to come forward if they were victims of hate crime.
He said: “We were happy to provide training on LGBTI hate crime issues to nearly 100 police officers across Scotland earlier this year and it’s great to see that Police Scotland have now set up a national network of liaison officers.
“This will help LGBTI people have the confidence to report hate incidents to the police and will mean that there should always be a police officer they can make contact with who has an understanding of LGBTI issues.”