HATE crimes against homosexuals in Scotland have risen almost fivefold in the past five years, shock new statistics have revealed.The statistics - gathered by a freedom of information request to Scotland's eight police forces - show a disturbing rise in reports of violent attacks, indecent assaults, abuse and vandalism against people targeted just because of their sexual orientarea there was a rise from 45 to 167 over the same period.
Figures show there were 666 incidents of homophobic abuse in 2009-10, almost double the 364 incidents reported in 2007-8, and almost five times the 114 incidents reported in 2004-5.
In Strathclyde, reported incidents have risen from 50 in 2004-5 to 286 last year, while in the Lothian and Borders area there was a rise from 45 to 167 over the same period.
Rights organisation Stonewall Scotland revealed that two thirds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people had been verbally abused in the past year, while a third had been physically attacked. The overall number of incidents is likely to be much higher as Stonewall said 61 per cent of victims did not report the crime to police.
The freedom of information statistics show that homosexuals have been abused or assaulted in their own homes, while eating in a restaurant, on public transport and while on a night out.
In one case, in the Central Scotland area, a lesbian and gay centre was set alight.
After a Stonewall Scotland campaign, police have been required to separately report incidents since March 2010.
However, the FoI figures pre-date the new laws. Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: Over a quarter of the people attacked told us they accept abuse and attacks as part of being LGBT in Scotland.
"Having said that we have a strong message from our police forces that crimes committed against people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated."
Ian Latimer, chief constable of Northern Constabulary and spokesman on diversity for the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, said: "Hate crime in any form is unacceptable."
And a Scottish Government spokesman added: "There is no room for complacency in this fight."