By Rory Reynolds
AT least two-thirds of one of Scotland’s biggest gay communities have been attacked or abused according to shocking new figures.
A survey by Stonewall Scotland, the gay rights group, has revealed that one-third of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Edinburgh have been physically attacked while two-thirds have been the victim of verbal abuse and taunts.
The figures also showed that nearly 90 per cent of victims had not reported the attacks to the police.
The results have prompted Stonewall to launch the Some people Are Gay. Get Over It! campaign to combat discrimination towards the LGBT community.
Debbie Baird, 32, was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a man in the street, who headbutted her friend when they were walking home from a night out.
She said: “I was really shocked that a big guy would attack a group of girls so viciously. He came out of nowhere and started shouting homophobic comments and then attacked and head butted my friend.”
Police officers were nearby when the savage attack took place and the thug was arrested and charged.
But Debbie said that the experience haunted her for some time.
She added: “For a long time afterwards I was nervous about going out and I think it’s important that it be recognized that this attack was a hate crime.”
Police and campaigners have now encouraged victims of assaults and abuse to come forward and report those responsible for homophobic attacks.
Stonewall has also told victims to report the incidents to Remote Reporting Centres which are run by public agencies.
Carl Watt, Director, Stonewall Scotland, said: “This shows that in Edinburgh alone too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been physically or verbally attacked out of hatred because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
“We welcome this campaign because it shows that hate crime will never be tolerated and that people who have experienced homophobic and transphobic hate crime can report it confidently, knowing they will be taken seriously.”
Councillor Paul Edie, chair of the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, said: “Hate crimes are very real and affect the lives of Edinburgh citizens everyday. We will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.
“Last year we launched the first strategy against Hate Crime which aims to increase reporting and in turn drive down incidences of hate crime in Edinburgh”
“We want to ensure Edinburgh is a place where all people can live, work, study and visit free from fear and the threat of harassment or violence of any kind.”
Inspector Dennis Hunter, from Lothian and Borders Police Safer Communities Department, added “Lothian and Borders Police take the issue of Hate Crime very seriously, and we welcome this awareness raising campaign.
“We are a proud of the multi cultural communities within our city, and will not tolerate any sort of discrimination in Edinburgh.”