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Scottish Parliament to vote on repealing notorious censorship law, WEDNESDAY

  • Politicians table motion to repeal the law which could imprison citizens for comments deemed “hateful”, even at family dinner table
  • “Hate Crime and Public Order Act” enforced 1st April; JK Rowling reported to police for gender-critical posts on “X”

EDINBURGH (16th April 2024) – Scottish politicians have tabled a motion to repeal Scotland’s notorious hate speech law on Wednesday 17th April. 

The law criminalises any language deemed to “stir up hatred” on grounds of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or variations in sex characteristics, with a potential penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment.  

Free speech advocates have raised concerns about the significant potential for the law to be abused by authorities to police opinion. The law extends even to conversations which take place within family homes.  

Scottish police received more than 7,000 online reports of “hate crimes” in the first week after the law came into effect on 1st April. JK Rowling was the subject of various complaints under the new law for her tweets about the biological reality of women, though police ultimately decided not to bring charges this time.  

The excessive strain placed on resources is exacerbated by the police’s commitment to investigate every single reported incident of “hate” under the new law, despite recently announcing that they will no longer investigate 24,000 low level crimes, including some examples of theft.  

The following statement may be attributed to Lois McLatchie Miller, Scottish Spokesperson and Senior Legal Communications Officer for ADF UK: 

“It’s obvious that the “hate speech ban” is completely unworkable according to democratic principles and must be repealed. Scotland was once the home of the Enlightenment, but these are dark days indeed for anyone wishing to challenge the dominant orthodoxies of our day – either through edgy comedy, religious conviction, or upholding truth on biological facts. 

“Nobody should be criminalised for speaking peacefully about their beliefs. Scottish politicians of every party should unite against this new form of “blasphemy ban” and vote in favour of repealing the law."

“Nobody likes to be hated. Very few people like to “be hateful”. But ambiguous language banning “stirring up hate” leaves the law wide open to abuse, with authorities able to label and criminalise speech that they simply don’t like. This is out of step with international law – the European Court of Human Rights has robustly defended speech that “offends, shocks and disturbs”. 

“We know how this story ends. Around the world, where “hate speech” bans have been enforced, innocent people have been dragged through courts simply for peacefully voicing their beliefs. In Finland, ADF International supported the defence of a long-serving politician and grandmother subject to a criminal trial for a Bible verse tweet. In Mexico, we are seeking justice for two politicians who were convicted of various forms of “violence” simply for upholding the truth about biological reality on “X”. Nobody should be criminalised for speaking peacefully about their beliefs. Scottish politicians of every party should unite against this new form of “blasphemy ban” and vote in favour of repealing the law. State-enforced censorship impoverishes society for everyone.” 

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PICTURED: Lois McLatchie Miller

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