A new law which punishes the perpetrators of hate crime against disabled and gay people has come into force in Scotland.

The new legislation means judges must take into account the motivation for attacks on disabled and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

It puts such crimes on the same footing as racist and religiously aggravated incidents for the first time.

A survey of Scotland’s gay community found a third said they had been the victim of a physical attack, according to the charity Stonewall Scotland.

The Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 was introduced to the parliament after being proposed in a member’s bill by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

It is the first piece of Green legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Harvie said: “From today, perpetrators of hate crimes against disabled and LGBT Scots will be put on notice.

“Courts can now take account of the true nature of their crimes when sentencing.”

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