CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

Religious Liberty
Cause menu Close menu
Speechscot
Religious Liberty

Protect Free Speech in Scotland

Watch our campaign film

The Scottish Government's Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill aims to repeal ancient blasphemy laws and adds to the list of groups that are currently specifically protected by hate crime laws. The Bill also creates a new offence of stirring up hatred.

At CARE, we have serious concerns about aspects of the proposed legislation, in particular the damaging effects it could have on free speech in Scotland.

What’s the problem?

There are a number of very serious problems with the bill. Here are the main issues:

  • The wording in the bill is very vague and open to misrepresentation. For example, the offence of 'stirring up hatred' is build around the concepts of what is 'threatening, abusive or insulting' which are subjective in nature and difficult to define.
  • The proposed new offence of 'stirring up hatred' is deeply troubling and vaguely worded.
  • The free speech protections are inadequate and as such, Christians could find themselves censored for holding orthodox, Christian beliefs.
  • Public Order Acts usually contain a ‘dwelling defence’, which protects you from prosecution over views expressed in your own home. There is no such defence in the Hate Crime Bill.
  • There are questions over the definition of ‘inflammatory material’ and whether the Bible would be included under this term.

Across Scotland, people are speaking out, from lawyers and police officers, to campaigners and actors. Free Speech is a precious liberty and it should be protected.

While the Scottish Government has responded by promising some changes to the Bill, we do not feel these go far enough.

So we're asking you to stand with us and help us protect free speech in Scotland.
Stuart Weir Director of CARE for Scotland

Con­tact your MSPs about the Hate Crime Bill

Please find below a list of some suggested points to make to your MSPs. You do not have to use all of them and we would strongly encourage you to use your own words.

Here are some points we suggest you make in your email/letter to your MSPs. Read the summary of our submission to the Justice Committee on the Bill for additional ideas of points to make.

  • Say you think the Scottish Government should abandon the bill and work to strengthen the existing laws, for example, by focusing on aggravated offences rather than introducing new and self-standing offences.
  • Point out that if the bill was to be adopted, the Scottish Government must ensure that the language is clear and concise and avoids any vague phrases such as 'insult' and 'insulting' which can be easily abused to silence opinions that one does not agree with.
  • You could also say that if the bill was to be adopted, the Scottish Government must ensure that the laws relate back to the threshold of 'malice and ill-will' rather than any lower threshold.
  • Ask your MSPs to work to strengthen the protection of freedom of speech, in Clauses 11 and 12, to ensure a more comprehensive protection that can effectively mitigate the risk of the laws being abused to curtail freedom of speech.
  • Point out that there is no ‘dwelling defence’ in the bill which opens the door to individuals being prosecuted for views expressed in their own home.
  • Say you think Parliament should amend the bill to introduce a monitoring mechanism to provide regular reviews of the effects of the laws, challenges faced and propose changes to address them.

Write to your elected representative

Simply put your postcode in and you'll be redirected to the Write to Them website. You'll quickly find your MSPs listed and by clicking their names, you'll be able to email them.

Filling in this form will direct you to an external service WriteToThem.com.

Example Youtube

CAREcast: What's wrong with the Hate Crime Bill?

In this CAREcast, James is joined by Lois McLatchie, a legal analyst for ADF International to discuss what's wrong with the Hate Crime Bill.

WATCH the podcast
Shutterstock 94086193

Find out more about what CARE thinks of the Hate Crime Bill

We submitted a response to the Justice Committee on the proposed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill. To make it more accessible, we've summarised our response into 10 simple points.

Read CARE's response

Donate to CARE

Your donation to CARE enables us to continue to work towards a culture and society reflecting a better story for everyone.

We only ask you to consider giving to CARE after you have considered the needs of your family and church.

All donations are securely processed.

I want to give…

Sign up for Impact Direct, and email publications

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Culture
& society reflecting a better story for everyone.

At the heart of all of CARE’s work is our determination to uphold the truth that human beings made in God’s image are immensely valuable and deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.

We want to show a better story for our culture and society, and we want to be part of shaping that in structures that we are given as citizens in the UK…

Find out more about the better story
A woman sitting with a smart phone in her lap
Take action

You can make a difference today.

Together we can make a difference shaping our culture and society. Here are three things you can do right now…

Pray.

We believe that God hears and answers prayer. We have several prayer points to help you pray for this cause.

Pray now

Write.

Your MP is your representative in UK parliament. CARE has produced a some suggestions for what you might say to your MP.

Write now

Discuss.

CARE have produced resources which will help you have discussion with your friends and within your local church.

Discuss now