Scotland Not Immune To Orlando-Style Attack
14 June 2016, 17:11 | Updated: 14 June 2016, 17:13
Scotland is not immune to the type of terrorist attack that saw 49 people gunned down in a gay nightclub in Florida by an Islamic extremist, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned.
There has been a 20% rise in LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) hate crime, including transgender hate crime, which is at its highest level since 2009, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs.
She pledged to bring perpetrators to justice and provide support and funding to LGBTI organisations to encourage reporting of hate crime.
Ms Sturgeon also made a pledge to work with Scotland's Muslim community to educate followers, particularly young people, of the dangers of extreme views.
Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando on Sunday.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: "These tragic events, and indeed the latest hate crime figures for Scotland published last week, do remind us that there is no room for complacency.
"We have already created strong laws that create new offences and aggravations.
"We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland and others to encourage increased reporting of hate crimes, and we will also do everything possible to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.''
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who recently got engaged to her partner Jennifer Wilson, said the Orlando terror attack saw "a safe space to show love violated by extreme hate''.
She said: "Our own country has not been immune in the past from attacks borne by twisted ideology. Without leadership, fear can lead to anger or even reprisal.''
She called on the First Minister to work with young people to push them away from extremism.
Ms Sturgeon said: "I absolutely agree with the point that was made about the importance of leadership and not thinking that we in Scotland are somehow immune from the type of event, and what lies behind those events, that we saw in Orlando at the weekend.
"It is vital that we work with our young people in particular.''
She added: "The Scottish Government will continue to take action, and indeed increase our action, across a range of fronts.
"Education and prevention remains of paramount importance.
"So, too, is making sure that we are supporting, where necessary with funding, LGBTI organisations so that they can work with individuals and the community as a whole.''
Anas Sarwar, whose father Mohammad was Westminster's first Muslim MP, said: "This tragedy comes during the holy month of Ramadan when millions of Muslims around the world are making personal sacrifices to recognise and learn about those less fortunate.
"They are saying loudly and peacefully: not in our name.
"Will the First Minister join me in sending a message to the spreaders of hate that we will not allow your intolerance, your mindlessness and your heartlessness to divide us or indeed define us?''
Ms Sturgeon, whose Glasgow Southside constituency is home to the biggest mosque in Scotland, said: "I am acutely aware, because of the many Muslim constituents I represent, not just of the fact that the Muslim community feel the same horror as we do, but that often that horror is amplified by the sense that somehow they are being held responsible for acts that they are not culpable for.''
Patrick Harvie, a former youth worker for a gay men's sexual health service, said: "I have only ever felt joy seeing the rainbow flag flying on occasions from the city chambers and I cannot express how it felt to see it at half-mast.
"There are, sadly, still people, including young people, who are subjected to the ideology that says certain sexual orientations or gender identity are inherent moral defects.
"How long does the First Minister think it will be before all schools in Scotland actively promote the equality and dignity of all of their people, including LGBTI young people?''
Ms Sturgeon said: "I'm not going to stand here and, off the top of my head, give timescales because I don't think that would be an appropriate thing to do.
"What I will do is give a commitment that I, as First Minister, will continue to work with campaigns ... to ensure that whether it is in a school or any other part of our society that environment for young people growing up, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is one that they feel comfortable and they are able to fulfil their potential.''