CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu
Scottish Parl front 1 3
Religious Liberty

Growing concern over new Scots Hate Crime Laws

4 June 2020

Since being introduced, concerns have been steadily growing in Scotland over proposed new hate crime laws.

Introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf MSP on 23 April 2020, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill will remove old blasphemy laws and introduce new offences of ‘intent’ to stir up hatred.

In fact, the new laws say anyone carrying out an action ‘likely’ to stir up hatred would be guilty of an offence, whatever their intention.

The bill seeks to extend the law on ‘hate crime’ against particular characteristics, including religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Unin­ten­ded consequences’

Hatecrime T

Critics have already warned the legislation is poorly worded and the lack of legally acceptable definitions could lead to unintended consequences.

The former editor of The Scotsman and Scottish Newspaper Society Director John McLellan has warned that new hate crime legislation could result in an increase in legal costs for Scottish newspapers.

In his column for the Scotsman, Mr McLellan said this could lead to police action against newspaper columnists by political activists who disagree with their views.

Bill could silence debate

The new bill has even drawn criticism from within the ranks of the Scottish National Party after former Deputy Leader of the Party, Jim Sillars, strongly criticised elements of the proposed legislation. He accused the party of ‘virtue signalling’.

Last month, the Executive Director of the Society of Editors also criticised the bill saying it looks like the legislation has been designed to ‘silence debate’.

Ian Murray even warned the bill could have consequences for people not living in Scotland.

What will hap­pen next?

Back of police officer 8
The bill gives police new powers so even 'intent' to stir up hatred will be criminalised

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill was introduced on 23 April 2020.

The Justice Committee has been designated lead Committee for Stage 1. The Committee launched a call for views on 4 May 2020 and the closing date for responses is Friday 24 July 2020.

CARE’s view

While we recognise the challenge of balancing the need to promote a civilised society with the freedom to express our views, to compel speech fundamentally undermines the principle of freedom of expression. MSPs need to carefully scrutinise this legislation and listen to the concerns being voiced by many different people and groups. Christians should be especially alert because the proposed legislation could have terrible consequences. Biblical teaching is unpopular in wider society and this bill could be used by some to try and silence churches. We welcome the free speech provisions in the bill but urge MSPs to proceed with maximum caution.

Rellib

Religious Liberty

The right to freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right. We are campaigning to safeguard these freedoms in our society.

Find out more about the cause

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.

Recent news

Gambling2 0

Lords call for immediate action on gambling related harms

A major new report from a Select Committee in the House of Lords has called for immediate action over video game loot boxes.

Keep reading
Row of betting machines casino 1c

New Poll Shows Huge Public Support for Gambling Law Reforms

The overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland support reforming the country’s outdated gambling laws, according to a new poll.

Keep reading
Pregnancy test 0

MP quizzes Govt over home abortion pills

The UK Government has been questioned over the current policy allowing women to take both abortion pills at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Keep reading