Ahead of the May 6 election, it’s important that the issue of free speech, and the Hate Crime Act in particular, is kept on the table. The run-up to election time often demonstrates just how vital robust freedom of speech protections are, so people can discuss and debate all manner of issues shaping Scotland’s future.
Part 3 of the Hate Crime Act still needs significant changes to make it fit for purpose. We’ve long been calling for a ‘dwelling defence’ to protect free speech in the home, and for stronger clauses to protect freedom of speech.
We’ve put together a list of questions you may wish to ask your local candidates:
- Polling by the Free to Disagree campaign found 87 per cent of Scots think free speech is an ‘important right’. Do you agree? If so, why?
- Two-thirds of Scots think debate is ‘shut down’ too quickly today. What will you do as an MSP to enable open and robust debate on different issues?
- Part 3 of the Hate Crime Act is deeply unpopular with voters, many of whom consider it a threat to free speech. Will you vote to repeal Part 3 if there is an opportunity in Parliament?
- In England and Wales, equivalent ‘stirring up hatred’ laws have a ‘dwelling defence’ protecting private conversations in the home. Part 3 of the Hate Crime Act has no such defence. Will you commit to amending it?
- Would you vote to strengthen the free speech clauses in Part 3 of the Hate Crime Act, and to narrow the focus of the offence?