Scotland's hate-crime laws will be expanded to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the Scottish Executive pledged in a Jan. 15 media release.

“I am delighted to announce today Government support for a bill which will extend statutory aggravations to cover crimes motivated by malice or ill will towards victims based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability,” said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

“Our clear aim is to prevent and deter crimes. But where crime does happen it will not be tolerated.”

According to the GLBT Equality Network, a quarter of Scottish gays have been a victim of homophobic violence and two-thirds have been threatened or harassed.

The Scottish Conservative Party opposes the change. The party's justice spokesman, Bill Aitken, said, “In Scotland, we pride ourselves in the fact that we are all equal in the eyes of the law but some it now seems are more equal than others, which cannot be right.”

GLBT-inclusive hate-crime laws already are in force in the rest of the United Kingdom.

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