Scottish Conservatives to vote against SNP’s Hate Crime Bill

The SNP’s Hate Crime Bill will be opposed by the Scottish Conservatives because of the threat it poses to freedom of speech. 

In a Holyrood vote this afternoon, Scottish Conservative MSPs will vote against the legislation. 

They maintain their opposition after the SNP proposed a series of amendments to water down or remove some of the most controversial parts. 

In this afternoon’s debate, Scottish Conservative shadow justice spokesman Liam Kerr will say: “Genuine hate crime must always be punished, but this law goes too far. Our fundamental right to freedom of speech remains under threat.” 

Mr Kerr will describe the controversial Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill as the “most controversial in devolution history”. 

The Scottish Conservatives have campaigned against the SNP’s proposed law which has attracted widespread criticism from religious organisations, charities, academics, legal and policing bodies. 

MSPs on the justice committee unanimously demanded numerous changes to the legislation as a condition of it progressing. While the SNP agreed to some, other sections of the bill remained intact. 

There is still no protection in the bill for things said in the privacy of a person’s home. 

Scottish Conservative shadow justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “As it is currently drafted, this bill could criminalise what other people may deem to be offensive or disrespectful 

“There is no way any politician with a belief in our fundamental right to freedom of speech could support this shoddy and dangerous law. 

“As we said before the parliamentary debate, mere tinkering is not enough and the SNP needs to understand that. 

“This Bill is fundamentally flawed and not fit for purpose. Such threats to freedom of speech cannot become law.” 

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