The Scottish Hate law bill

Scotland’s Hate Law bill and the named opposition

The Hate Law Bill

On April 1st 2024, Humza Yousaf, the first Minister in Scotland introduced the Hate Law bill in an attempt to reduce the amount of hate crime those in targeted groups receive.

This bill makes it a criminal offense to incite any hated on the basis of age, race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or disability. Any comments or action which is presented as threatening, abusive or has the intention to incite hatred will be treated under the new bill.

The penalty for those found guilty of hate crime has been set at a maximum of 7 years prison sentence.

The Scottish Police reported that they receive at least 3800 hate-crime complaints in the law’s first 3 days confirming that the public desire to have those making comments to be addressed.

Why has this been introduced?

In Scotland, prosecutors recorded 1,884 hate crime charges in 2022-23 relating to sexual identity and 55 relating to transgender identity.

The aim is to reduce the threat which those in the groups above are subject to either online or in person.

Those who oppose the bill

JK Rowling-

Rowling has been outspoken in her opposition to the hate law bill and argues that the prosecutions are too broad and leave it open to the chance of criminalising free expression. She has often been known to comment on social media about transgender people and making remarks which misgender and undermine their experiences.

When the bill came into action Rowling took to social media, writing, “Freedom of speech and belief are at an end…if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal.”

Rowling has lived in Scotland since 1993 and dared the Scottish police to arrest her for the above remark. The Police assessed the comment and decided that this was not a threat and so there was no need for an arrest.

JK Rowling has been criticised as her comments heavily undermine the real violent threats which may transgender people are subject to and which the bill is hoping to help with.

Rishi Sunak has been defending Rowling and promising that his party will “always protect” free speech.

Elon Musk-

Elon Musk describes himself as a “free speech absolutist” as he began remoulding X from his takeover in 2022. He has commented on his belief that free speech should be preserved which has been part of his mission for X.

According to the Washington Post, research revealed a rise in hate speech, anti-Semitic posts and QAnon conspiracy theories has been found on X since Elon Musk bought the platform.

Comedians are also expressing concern about the bill, and whether this will limit what they can say during their sets. The Scottish Police have expressed that the bill will not target comments made in jest or expression of thoughts whether they are shocking or different. The bill is there to address violent and abusive comments which could become or are threats.

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