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Scotland: Hate Crime Bill set for final vote

Religious Liberty
10 March 2021
Scottish parliament

MSPs at the Scottish Parliament will debate and then vote on the controversial hate crime bill for the last time today.

Ever since it was introduced in April last year, the legislation has caused persistent wrangling's over terminology, free speech and the best way to safeguard freedom of expression.

Groups and individuals from across society have spoken out over the past 11 months to express various concerns about different parts of the Bill.

Following a series of changes by the Scottish Government, some of the more potentially damaging parts of the legislation have been removed or amended.

But in its final note to MSPs ahead of today's vote, CARE for Scotland said 'significant concerns' remained, especially in relation to free speech.

While welcoming improvements to the Bill at Stage 2, CARE for Scotland continues to have significant concerns about the effect it will have on free speech if it becomes as law as presently drafted. Some of the amendments up for debate today will strengthen the Bill and enhance free speech protections.
CARE for Scotland

Here are the key amend­ments to look out for

There are a series of amendments to the Bill which MSPs will consider today and then have a chance to vote on.

Some aim at adding clarification to the 'reasonable person' test which was added to the Bill at Stage 2. Amendment 5 aims to ensure a 'dwelling defence' is included in the law. This is an especially important amendment because it will offer protection for people for what they say in their own homes.

Amendments 6-10 seek to remove the 'stirring up' offences which have proved hugely controversial.

There's also a free speech amendment in the name of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf and additional amendments to Mr Yousaf's amendment to make sure free speech protections are as robust as possible.

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