MSPs questioned Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf over the controversial legislation during an evidence session before the Holyrood Justice Committee for the first time today. The new proposed legislation will introduce a stirring-up of hate offence on characteristics including disability, sexual orientation and age.
However critics fear the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, which centres around plans for a new offence of “stirring up hatred”, will stifle freedom of expression.
BBC Scotland, Catholic bishops, the Humanist Society of Scotland, and the Scottish Police Federation are amongst those to have raised concerns, along with Mr Bean star Rowan Atkinson and writer Val McDermid.
Because of this, Mr Yousaf was forced to amend the legislation and change the controversial “stirring up” offences section which has been condemned by opponents. It now means “stirring up offences” would be limited to “intent” relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics and therefore prosecutions could only be brought in this respect.