Vote to fight hate crimes de­feated

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

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’.

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