News

World

Scottish Bill Would Criminalize ‘Hate Speech’ in Private Homes

Scotland’s Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, speaks at the opening of the Scottish National Party conference in Glasgow, Scotland, October 7, 2018. (Russell Cheyne/Reuters)

A controversial bill making its way through Scotland’s Parliament would criminalize hate speech even if the offending words were uttered in someone’s private home.

Members of the Scottish Parliament questioned Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf for the first time on Tuesday about the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, which would establish a new crime, “stirring up hatred.”

The legislation criminalizes hate speech relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and variations in sex characteristics, including potentially hate speech spoken in private residences.

After criticism from groups saying the bill threatens to stifle free speech, Yousaf agreed to amend the legislation when it reaches stage two of consideration in Parliament. The amendment will stipulate that offenders may only be prosecuted if they had “intent” to stir up hatred. Yousaf also agreed to again examine protections for free speech in the bill.

“I’m very actively considering both the breadth and the depth of freedom-of-expression clauses,” the justice secretary said. “We have to be aware of some of the concerns that may be expressed if we were to have a generic freedom-of-expression clause, would that be specific enough to give people the reassurances that they desire?”

Several groups have sounded the alarm over the new legislation, including BBC Scotland, Catholic bishops, the Humanist Society of Scotland, and the Scottish Police Federation.

Glasgow Tory MSP Adam Tomkins, who is convener of the justice committee, cautioned during his questioning of Yousaf that the bill may take censorship of speech too far.

“When we are considering the scope of the criminal law in this Parliament, we’ve got to be careful not to under criminalize and also guard against over-criminalization and make sure we are not inadvertently rendering criminal that we think ought to be free to do,” Tomkins said.

Scottish Conservative Justice Spokesman Liam Kerr said the bill was initially “a mess” and “still contains serious issues that need to be fixed.”

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Most Popular

Elections

The Stolen-Election Narrative Needs to End

Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping ... Read More
Elections

The Stolen-Election Narrative Needs to End

Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping ... Read More
White House

A Justified Pardon

President Trump’s pardon of retired General Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national-security adviser, was a justified act of clemency. You don’t have to be a fan of how Trump has wielded his pardon power (often recklessly and on behalf of friends and supporters) or believe that Flynn was ... Read More
White House

A Justified Pardon

President Trump’s pardon of retired General Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national-security adviser, was a justified act of clemency. You don’t have to be a fan of how Trump has wielded his pardon power (often recklessly and on behalf of friends and supporters) or believe that Flynn was ... Read More
Immigration

What Now for Trump’s Border Wall?

The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close. The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the ... Read More
Immigration

What Now for Trump’s Border Wall?

The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close. The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the ... Read More