LGBT Youngsters 'Need To Feel Safe'

12 June 2015, 06:00

More needs to be done to ensure LGBT young people feel safe in their communities, according to a charity.

LGBT Youth Scotland welcomed an increase in the reporting of hate crimes but called for further moves to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people understand their rights and report discrimination.

In a new report based on a survey of LGBT people aged 13 to 25, the group said they still encounter harassment in public spaces and not all are aware of what constitutes a criminal act under hate crime legislation and how to report it.

Half said they were aware of their rights, while a similar proportion (53%) said they would feel confident in reporting a crime they experienced to the police.

Among transgender young people the figure dropped to 48%, while bisexual women were the least likely to feel confident reporting a hate crime at 46%.

Just under 49% of LGBT young people said they felt safe and supported by the legal system, falling to 40% for the transgender group.

Just over half (51%) of transgender young people said they felt safe using public transport.

Chief executive Fergus McMillan said: "In Scotland, we are fortunate to have strong hate crime legislation that is inclusive of transgender identities yet the safety report shows a gap in knowledge and confidence for transgender young people in particular.

"When young people know about their rights, and have confidence in the process, they are more likely to be willing to report.

"An increase in reported crimes since the introduction of the legislation is certainly positive, yet more must be done to ensure that LGBT young people feel safe in their communities, understand their rights and how to report discrimination and harassment, and have the confidence to report.''

The group has recommended that campaigns, activities and lesson plans be developed for use in schools with specific reference to hate crime.

The report was based on a total of 273 responses to its online survey.