There is no excuse for hate crime and prejudice. Scottish Government is absolutely committed to tackling it wherever it happens, whenever it happens and whoever it happens to. Those who don't experience it may not see it. But the reality is - an attack on one is an attack against us all.
The report of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion we established last year was published in September of last year. I want to reiterate my thanks to Dr Duncan Morrow and the other members of the group for an insightful report with recommendations that reach across society. We accept the recommendations made within the report, and this response seeks to set out how we will go about implementing them. In doing so, I am clear that this is not for Government alone to do - and I know that there are many key partners who stand ready to support us in their work.
In reading the Advisory Group's report, I was struck by the testimony of those who experience hate. These personal insights and experiences can be lost when we discuss policy and law. These are people experiencing persistent, low level abuse and harassment many times a day - in public, on transport, at schools, at home and in work. Those experiences are traumatic, isolated and damaging to community cohesion. Whole communities can end up isolating themselves from society and enjoy less opportunity to interact and engage with other communities, leading to weaker integration. It is not good enough that people in our country are experiencing this. So I repeat - wherever it happens, whenever it happens, whoever it happens to - it needs to be tackled and it needs to stop.
Scotland is a diverse, multi-cultural society and that diversity is our strength. These are the words - we need to make them a reality. This can only happen if we take a broad approach. We must continue to talk up the benefits of equality, diversity and inclusion in our society. And we must never hesitate to shine a light on prejudice where it exists. Important as it is that victims of hate crime secure justice and perpetrators are tackled, we must recognise that this is about more than reporting a crime to the police. Achieving equality is a priority for this Government, and we have placed it the heart of our mission to create a fairer Scotland. We must do that if we are to create a Scotland - One Scotland - where there is simply no place for hatred and prejudice.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities