Take action to defend free speech

Stage 2 scrutiny of the Hate Crime Bill will begin on Tuesday 2nd February. Make sure you have your say before proceedings begin.

On Tuesday, members of the Justice Committee will debate and vote on various amendments. They will do so again next week. It is vitally important that more, significant changes are agreed upon in order to protect free speech.

We still believe the best course of action is to drop the controversial stirring up hatred offences altogether. But the chances of this happening are low. At the very least, MSPs must back changes previously promised by the Scottish Government.

The government has pledged to: restrict the stirring up hatred offences to ‘intent’ only; strengthen a free speech provision covering religion and insert a new provision on transgender identity; remove provisions on ‘inflammatory material’ and provide an objective test for what ‘abusive’ behaviour is taken to mean. 

Other useful amendments have been lodged by Committee members to: remove the vague term ‘abusive’ altogether; insert a broader trans free speech provision; provide a ‘dwelling defence’ for words spoken in the home; and insert a ‘prosecution lock’ requiring consent from a senior law officer.

Please take the time to write to Justice Committee MSPs and ask them to back these amendments. Contact details for the relevant MSPs are outlined below.

Key amendments

When you write to MSPs, please ask them to support:

  • Govt amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4 to restrict offending to ‘intent’ only
  • Amendment 19  to remove offences on inflammatory material (this amendment is in Liam Kerr MSP’s name but is supported by the Govt)
  • Govt amendments 34, 36, 39 and 40 to provide an objective test for ‘abusive’
  • Govt amendment 77 to broaden the religious free speech clause
  • Govt amendment 82 to insert a trans free speech clause

Please also ask MSPs to support:

  • Amendment 39A and 40A to remove the term ‘abusive’
  • Amendments 41, 44 and 84 to provide a ‘dwelling defence’
  • Amendment 55 to require the consent of Crown Counsel to any prosecution
  • Amendment 82B to insert a broad trans free speech clause

MSP contact details

To write to all nine members of the Committee, copy and paste the following email addresses into the ‘To’ field of a blank email:


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