MY thanks to Jim Sillars (Letters, June 8) for replying to my letter of June 3 about the Hate Crime Bill. It is important to have this debate, but also that it is well-informed. The bill does not "introduce the concept of aggravation by prejudice" – that has been the cornerstone of hate crime legislation since 1998. It means that a crime that is proven to have been motivated by prejudice is recorded as such and the motive is taken into account in sentencing.

What the bill does is to widen existing hate crime law to protect more people. The aggravation is widened to cover crimes that target people because of their age. The existing offence of stirring up racial hatred is extended, in a weaker form, to cover stirring up hatred against religious groups, disabled people, LGBTI people, and on grounds of age. These offences contain provisions intended to ensure the right to freedom of speech and debate, but they of course deserve careful scrutiny to get the boundaries right.

Let's not lose sight of why we have these laws. Last year, there were 4,914 hate crimes in Scotland dealt with by prosecutors, including 2,880 racist crimes, 1,176 homophobic crimes, 529 sectarian/religious hate crimes, 289 against disabled people, and 40 transphobic crimes. Many more hate crimes were reported to police but not solved, and many go unreported. Hate crime is a stain on our country, and we need to work actively to address it.

Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network, Edinburgh EH6.

Friendly persuasion

SINCE partial restriction on UK horse racing occurred some 10 days ago the industry has positively responded, evidenced by the number of horses competing daily at various venues. One notable change is that either a nine or 10-race card applies as opposed to the pre-lockdown six. The main benefactors are the TV sports channels and off-course bookmakers, as lockdown restrictions still exclude spectators.

Perhaps the Scottish football hierarchy should initiate televised friendly matches behind closed doors whilst the never-ending issue of league reconstruction is debated.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

Respect the planet

I WAS shocked to read Mark Smith's column on the subject of live calf exports ("Cruel and unjustified: The legal case you might not be aware of", The Herald, June 8). I thought live animal exports had been stopped years ago.

As Jane Goodall says, until we start respecting the planet and every sentient creature on it, we will continue to suffer pandemic after pandemic until we learn sense. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result. I have no children, but I have great-nieces and great-nephews. It would be nice to think their future was secure, but after campaigning for 40 years, I wonder if I should give up hope of anything better.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.

Loyal President?

LIKE Doug Maughan, I am very much amused by Steven Camley’s cartoons, always up to the mark and sometimes ahead of the times.

Monday's entry however, featuring the US President writing an "Orange Lives Matter" placard really did take me aback, for I had no idea that The Donald was a lodge member.

Ian Cooper, Bearsden.

Monaco v Millport

IN keeping with Andrew McKie's proposal to create a low-tax freeport and financial centre status for Millport ("Why can't we have a Hong Kong in the Firth of Clyde," The Herald, June 9), can we also look forward to a Millport F1 Grand Prix as per the one in Monaco?

Jon Cossar, Bearsden.