Vote to fight hate crimes defeated
A PLAN to ‘set an example by condemning hate crimes’ was thrown out by members of Argyll and Bute Council during a free vote at a meeting last week.
Last Thursday’s full council meeting saw 16 of the 30 members present oppose the motion and instead voted to take ‘no action’. It has been confirmed the policy would have had no cost implications.
The largest group to oppose the policy was the SNP, on the same day as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities across Scotland.
Three young people have since approached The Oban
Times to say hate crimes towards them are carried out on a daily basis but they have given up on anyone listening.
Members of Oban’s LGBTI community, as well as those with disabilities, have been disappointed with the council’s lack of commitment to protecting their rights.
Councillor Kieron Green and veteran councillor Rory Colville wanted the policy to be introduced.
Mr Green said: ‘The motion focused on racism and xenophobia and I was sure all members would oppose hate crime whether it is due to someone’s race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
‘As a council, we need to set an example by being seen to go the extra mile in condemning … hate crimes, helping to support those who become victims of hate crimes and urging the public to report incidents.’
During the debate, Mr Green said he was shocked fellow councillors could not see ‘the big picture’. He continued: ‘Councillors didn’t think there was a problem so did not want to emphasise it by supporting the motion.’
Last week, members of Oban’s disabled community met MSP Michael Russell to plead for equal rights.
Oban woman Kerry McInnes said hate crimes had a daily impact on the lives of people with disabilities, and the meeting with the MSP was to raise concerns about the protection of those rights. She said: ‘It is important that our MSPs and councillors listen to what we have to say. We talked about the impact these things have on all aspects of life.’
Leader of the opposition Councillor Sandy Taylor said SNP members had a free vote at the council meeting. He added: ‘It was up to members to vote with their conscience.’
He said police records showed the number of cases reported were ‘minimal’.