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Scottish Law Society hits out at new Hate Crime Laws

Religious Liberty
28 July 2020
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New hate crime laws in Scotland have come under heavy criticism from The Scottish Law Society after the group warned the legislation was flawed.

In its submission to Holyrood’s Justice Committee on the proposed law, the society said the flaws meant the bill could fail to achieve its intended purpose.

It criticised the legislation’s vagueness and policy intentions and the Law Society also expressed fears the bill threatens freedom of expression.

Amanda Millar, president of the Law Society of Scotland said:

“We have significant reservations regarding a number of the bill’s provisions and the lack of clarity, which could in effect lead to restrictions in freedom of expression, one of the foundations of a democratic society. We have real concerns that certain behaviour, views expressed or even an actor’s performance, which might well be deemed insulting or offensive, could result in a criminal conviction under the terms of the bill as currently drafted.”
Amanda Millar President, Law Society of Scotland

She went on to call for MSPs to robustly debate the bill when it comes before the Parliament later this year:

“Having full and proper debate in the Scottish Parliament will be essential in ensuring that new hate crime law can work as intended. It needs to ensure an appropriate balance is maintained to protect those in society who are most vulnerable to prejudice while preserving the right to comment or debate on matters.”
Amanda Millar

Bill could under­mine free speech

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf on 23 April.

Since then, it’s come under repeated and sustained criticism from lawyers, academics, campaigners and MSPs from across the Parliament.

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