A CONTROVERSIAL bill that will see rules compared to ‘blasphemy laws’ imposed upon Scots, has now passed in Holyrood, with 82 voting in favour, and 32 against.
The vote was delayed by 24 hours after a tense debate as both Scottish Labour and Conservative MSPs attempted in vain to amend it to include sex as a protected characteristic and to insert a “dwelling defence”, so private conversations around the family dinner table could not be prosecuted.
Voting for SNP Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf’s bill, just one amended was added – an addition to the free speech defence to include a reference to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which “allows for the expression of information or ideas that offend, shock or disturb” as well as for discussion and criticism.
The bill consolidates existing hate crime laws but also establishes a new offence of “stirring up hatred” on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation, age, disability and transgender identity, with politicians warning it could lead to individuals facing criminal charges simply for expressing views that others disagree with.
Defending the bill, Yousaf said: “There are some here who believe that if racism takes place at home that should not be prosecuted.
“My contention is the impact is the same. Regardless of where hatred is intentionally stirred up, the outcome can lead to a person of colour, a disabled person, someone who is gay or lesbian, an older person, or a transwoman, getting beaten up, threatened with violence or raped.
“Do we think they care that hatred was intentionally stirred up or took place at home?”