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New Hate Crime Bill Clears Final Hurdle in Scottish Parliament

The controversial Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill 2021 has been passed by the Scottish Parliament, despite widespread criticism and fears that it could impact freedom of expression and lead to “frivolous complaints”, according to former MP Jim Sillars.

The bill, which expands protections for members of the LGBTQ community, as well as other protected groups, creates a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected groups such as transgender people.

Those opposed to the bill have warned it will erode women’s rights. Policy analysts MurrayBlackburn Mackenzie have claimed that “under this new law people, particularly women, will face the risk of being reported to the police, simply for asserting that sex matters”.

Replying to criticism that the bill negatively affects freedom of speech, its architect, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, has said the bill adequately protects free speech and that opinions would not be criminalised. Speaking after the Bill’s passage, he said “…solely stating any belief, which I accept may be offensive to some, is not breaching the criminal threshold”.

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