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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-06811: Jamie Greene (West Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 2 February 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle online homophobic bullying and to ensure that (a) it can be adequately reported and (b) perpetrators are brought to justice.

Answered by: John Swinney 17 February 2017

Bullying of any kind, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, wherever it takes place, is unacceptable and must be addressed swiftly and effectively whenever it arises.

The National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People is currently being updated. This sets out a common vision and aims to make sure that work across all agencies and communities is consistently and coherently contributing to anti-bullying in Scotland. LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland are part of the working group. This will be published later in 2017.

There is no legal definition of bullying in Scotland and as such, bullying is not a crime. However, certain incidents can often be more serious and criminal in nature. It is important to ensure that there is a clear distinction between bullying and criminal offences such as hate crime. There are laws to protect children and young people from this very serious type of behaviour. Following an investigation by the Police, the decision to proceed will rest with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The Scottish Government established and wholly funds 'respectme', a national anti-bullying service, to build confidence and capacity to address all types of bullying effectively, aligned to the National Approach to Anti-bullying in Scotland. 'respectme' provide direct support to local authorities, schools, youth groups and all those working with children and young people.