THE co-founders of a Glasgow sex shop have hit back at a Tory MSP after she said their business was not an appropriate place for people to report hate crimes.

Police Scotland has listed Luke and Jack’s – a sex shop in Merchant City with a large LGBT+ clientele – as a third-party reporting centre for the Scottish Government’s new hate crime laws set to come into force next month.

The laws create a new offence of stirring up hatred on the basis of protected characteristics such as age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Once in force, those who believe they may have been subject to a hate crime can choose to report the incident to a third-party centre.

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Across Scotland they include places such as a mushroom farm and a smoked salmon facility.

Yet, on Wednesday, Tory MSP Annie Wells took issue with Luke and Jack’s being included as a third-party reporting centre by Police Scotland.

She said: “Serious questions must be asked as to who thought a sex shop was an appropriate setting to report a hate crime.

“The SNP’s act is flawed enough without asking people to relay their experiences in this sort of outlet in the heart of the city centre.

“Glaswegians will rightly be wondering what the thinking behind this decision. Police Scotland should drop this shop from their reporting centres as a matter of urgency.”

The National: The owners of the sex shop said Annie Wells had never paid them a visitThe owners of the sex shop said Annie Wells had never paid them a visit

But co-owners Ian Diamond and his partner Drew Bigglestone told The National that Wells had failed to do her “due diligence” on their shop and explained why they had signed up.

“We actually became involved in this around ten years ago,” said Diamond.

“At that time there gay men’s health organisations that were open during the day, which would have been the places where it was possible to get this kind of service.

“But funding cuts mean those places really don’t exist anymore.

“There was no longer anywhere you could just walk in that was designated as a safe space for LGBT+ people during the day.

“Because we’ve been working so closely with the LGBT+ community in Glasgow for well over a decade, we felt we were a perfect fit when the police started talking about using businesses such as hairdressers as places to report hate crimes.”

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They said that over the years they had undergone several training sessions on how to handle the reporting of hate crimes and were fully committed to more training.

They added that the only interaction Wells appeared to have had with their shop was looking it up on Google Maps.

“She’s never, as far as I know, visited the shop,” said Bigglestone. 

“So, she doesn’t know anything about it. I think maybe there’s a bit of due diligence required on her part to find out what she’s actually criticising.

“We don’t sell porn. It’s simply products for sexual pleasure, lingerie and underwear.

“In many ways, we attempt to tailor our shop to be as approachable and non-offensive as possible.”

Diamond added that as a long-standing LGBT-owned business already concerned with customers privacy, they were actually well-placed to act as a third-party reporter.

“Our business relies on people trusting us to protect their privacy,” said Diamond.

“If that doesn't make us the best people to deliver this service as well, then I don't really know who it is.

“For example, if someone was to come in and say: ‘My husband was shopping in here yesterday, what did he get?’

“We wouldn’t entertain that. We understand that customers have a right to privacy when they enter our shop.

“If anything, we’re far more aware of confidentiality than most other retail spaces.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland has used Hate Crime Third Party Reporting Centres for a number of years.

“In some cases, victims and witnesses of a hate crime may not feel comfortable approaching the police directly. Third Party Reporting Centres provide them with a safe space to make a report, and we constantly review these alongside the Scottish Government.

“Any business or organisation can volunteer to be a Third Party Reporting Centre, and they reflect the diverse nature of our local communities. Staff are trained to ensure they can assist victims or witnesses.

“Hate crime and discrimination of any kind is deplorable and entirely unacceptable and we will investigate every report.”