Scotland’s government has been slammed by the Catholic Church for ignoring sectarian and anti-Catholic hate attacks, after launching a new “hate crime” initiative focused on the disabled and transgendered.
The new campaign, launched by Scottish National Party (SNP) justice secretary Humza Yousaf, features a series of letters directly addressed to “racists”, “homophobes”, “disablists”, and “BIGOTS”, calling them un-Scottish.
They also specifically address the transgendered, despite six times more “hate crimes” being perpetrated against Roman Catholics in Scotland, according to the church.
Launched our latest campaign to tackle hate crime alongside colleague @ClydesdAileen
Really powerful messages, all signed off "Yours, Scotland" making the point that the vast majority of us have zero tolerance towards hatred. So if you see it, or are a victim, please report it. pic.twitter.com/GioitMCoCM
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) September 26, 2018
Catholic Church representatives told The Times the drive was a “missed opportunity” to address one of the most prevalent forms of hate and division in the country, with none of the letters addressing sectarianism.
Catholicism is a minority religion in Scotland, with around 14 saying they are Catholics, compared to over 25 percent identifying with the Protestant Church of Scotland, and around 1.4 percent saying they are Muslim.
Scotland has historically suffered from serious sectarian division. The country has had a national Protestant church since the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, but maintains a sizeable Roman Catholic population, thanks in large part to Irish immigration.
Part of the Irish-heritage population is also Protestant, however, and the two groups have brought with them the rivalry between British Unionists, largely Protestant and loyal to the Crown, and Irish Nationalists, largely Catholic and supportive of Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and joining the Republic of Ireland.
Marches linked to both communities in cities like Glasgow have been a source of contention and have often descended into violence.
Hate Crime. Report it to stop it.
— Scot Gov Fairer (@ScotGovFairer) September 26, 2018
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “The hate crime campaign has glaringly missed an opportunity to highlight one of the most prevalent forms of hate crime in Scotland: anti-Catholicism.
“The Scottish government used a victim of transgender hate crime to launch their campaign and created a specific transphobes poster, despite the fact that in the last year there were 319 prosecutions for anti-Catholic hate crime and 49 for transgender hate crime.
“A search of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service website using the term transgender returns 15 results, including statistics, the lord advocate’s personal pledge on transgender hate crime and several documents on equality. A search using the terms Catholic or Catholicism returns no results.
“This dramatically skewed approach ignores completely all victims of anti-Catholicism while the continuing failure to identify it as a specific form of intolerance which should be tackled with a specific rather than a blanket strategy undermines the government’s commitment to tackle hate crime.”
— ScotGov Justice (@ScotGovJustice) September 26, 2018
At the campaign launch, Mr Yousaf said he would engage with the Catholic Church following its criticisms.
He complained, however, that “It would have been impossible for us to create a campaign that was simple and focused and targeted, yet addressed every single religious group, every single racial group.”
According to the most recent statistics, half of all of the religiously-aggravated crime last year in Scotland was committed against Catholics. In contrast, 27 percent were against Protestants and 17 percent against Muslims.
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) September 24, 2018