MSPs must reject ‘illiberal’ hate crime proposals after ‘highly significant’ public response

MSPs are being urged to reject controversial hate crime proposals after a ‘highly significant’ public reaction to the plans.

Today, Holyrood’s Justice Committee announced that its call for views on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, held between May and July, received almost 2,000 written submissions.

Committee Convener Professor Adam Tomkins MSP said:

“The number of submissions we have received is unprecedented and reflects that this Bill is contentious. Hundreds of individuals and organisations have written to us setting out their views on the offences that this Bill would both create and abolish.

“Given the importance of this legislation – and the strength of feeling it is generating – it is vital that sufficient time is allowed for scrutiny. Our Committee has already agreed that it will revisit the deadline of 18 December should it become necessary.”

Jamie Gillies, spokesman for Free to Disagree, said:

“Adam Tomkins is right. The Hate Crime Bill has generated great strength of feeling in Scotland since it was published in April. Almost two thousand responses were submitted to the Justice Committee’s call for views over a period of just twelve weeks, and in the midst of a global pandemic. That’s highly significant.

“The submissions we’ve seen so far indicate that many groups, including the police and legal professionals, feel deeply uneasy about the government’s proposals. ‘Stirring up’ provisions in Part 2 of the bill are described as ‘unevidenced’, ‘illiberal’, ‘unworkable’, and a ‘threat to free speech’.

“We don’t doubt that there are good intentions behind the Hate Crime Bill. However, given the serious risks outlined and the lack of evidence that new ‘stirring up’ provisions are necessary, we would urge MSPs to oppose Part 2 of the bill.”

The Committee plans to start hearing oral evidence about the Bill in late October, with a view to completing its Stage 1 report by 18 December 2020. 


Issued on behalf of Free to Disagree by Tom Hamilton Communications. For media enquiries, contact:

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Or Jamie Gillies:

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