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Hate crime bill changed after our campaign

September 24, 2020

The Hate Crime Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament is to be amended after an intervention by Humanist Society Scotland and our supporters.

The Scottish Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, confirmed to Parliament that he would make changes asked for by Humanist Society Scotland on intent. Last month Humanist Society Scotland co-ordinated a joint letter from over 20 artists, journalists, human rights organisations and campaigners to warn that the wording of the bill risked stifling freedom of expression.

The new offence of stirring up hatred will now only apply in cases where intent is proven.

Welcoming the commitment, our Chief Executive, Fraser Sutherland, said:

This is a very welcome move by the Justice Secretary and shows that the government was serious when they said they were listening to concerns. The change to make the new stirring up offences ‘with intent’ only is something we have consistently asked for. This ensures best practice on intent from the UN Rabat Plan on incitement to hatred laws and shouldn’t see the law have a chilling effect on for example artistic freedom.
We will continue to engage with the government and opposition parties at the Scottish Parliament on other aspects of the bill that we have raised questions about.

Fraser Sutherland, Humanist Society Scotland

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