Humanists welcome hate crime bill amendments

February 9, 2021

Humanist Society Scotland has welcomed amendments to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill agreed by MSPs this morning.

The amendments agreed today remove the specific sections in the draft bill that targeted theatres and owning ‘inflammatory material’. In addition the changes also see a requirement to ‘prove intent’ of a hate crime in court. Both these changes were called for by Humanist campaigners last year.

In August 2020 Humanist Society Scotland co-ordinated a joint letter of artists, writers and human rights advocates – including Val MacDermid, Elaine C Smith and Rowan Atkinson – which criticised the draft restrictions for their impact on free expression in the arts and wider society.

Welcoming the amendments, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland, Fraser Sutherland, said:

These changes made to the Hate Crime Bill today will help ensure that artistic freedom is protected and theatre censorship ruled out. More amendments are still to be decided next week which include protecting the right to criticise, satirise and cause offense against religion which we strongly recommend are passed to protect freedom of expression.

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