Hate Crime Bill

The SNP’s Hate Crime Act is an assault on free speech. We will fight to repeal it.

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Only the Scottish Conservatives stand up for free speech. When the SNP’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act passed through the Scottish Parliament in March 2021, the Scottish Conservatives were the only party to vote against it. It is one of the most extreme pieces of legislation ever passed by the Scottish Parliament, yet Labour and other parties were too weak to stand up to the SNP and reject it.

The Hate Crime Act is highly controversial. The Hate Crime Act introduced the offence of ‘stirring up hatred’ if someone is behaving in a ‘threatening or abusive’ way. This wording was derided as ambiguous and left open the possibility of malicious complaints being made against individuals with controversial views that the police would be obliged to investigate. 

The Hate Crime Act criminalises speech in your own home. The Act is so extreme that there are no protections for words spoken in your own home, leaving open the possibility of dinner table conversations being criminalised.

The SNP also excluded women from the Act’s provisions. The Act consolidates the existing use of aggravators to prosecute hate crime for the characteristics of race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or variations in sex characteristics but it does not include the characteristic of sex. 

Genuine hate crime should be punished but the provisions in the Hate Crime Act go too far. The SNP ignored the Act’s flaws from the start despite widespread opposition from academics, lawyers, journalists, entertainers and faith groups. The Scottish Conservatives would repeal the Hate Crime Act in order to protect Scots’ fundamental right to privacy and free speech. 

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