Holyrood move to ditch Hate Crime laws
● Tories to bring motion in Parliament ● Concerns over freedom of expression
A Holyrood bid to ditch controversial plans to introduce new Hate Crime laws in Scotland is to come before MSPS this week.
The legislation has met with widespread concerns that it will stifle freedom of speech, although supporters insist the move is needed to defend minority groups from attack.
The Tories will press a motion in Holy rood tomorrow, calling on the Scottish Government to withdraw the Bill - which has already attracted a host of criticism.
Concerns over the Bill has centred on plans for a new offence of “stirring up hatred”, with opponents concerned this will stifle freedom of expression.
With opposition parties being given debating time at Holyrood again, the Tories will attempt to put more pressure on the Scottish Government - with Tory leader Douglas Ross urging ministers to “go back to the drawing board”.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has already told MSPS he will consider whether changes need to be made to the Bill, saying he has noted the “particular concerns” that have been raised.
While some organisations such as the Equality Network and Victim Support Scotland have spoken in favour of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, the Tories say there are “clear flaws” in the proposals.
Mr Ross said: “Whatever the original good intentions of this Bill were, the breadth and depth of opposition to its clear flaws are to o strong for the SNP to try to force it through.
“We can not allow such a blatant attack on freedom of speech in Scotland to progress any further. “
The Scottish Tory leader, who will not be able to take part in the debate as he does not currently have a seat in Holy rood, added :“Everyone agrees on the need for legislation to tackle hate crime in Scotland.
“But by trying to fix a doomed Bill that clearly needs to be reworked, we’re wasting time that the Parliament needs to hold the S NP Government to account on care home death sand their domestic record.”
The Moray MP, has called on the other opposition par ties at Holyrood to unite with the Tories in moving for the bill to be dropped.
“The Hate Crime Bill is too important to allow it to progress with these attacks on free speech,” Mr Ross added. “The SNP must withdraw it and go back to the drawing board.”
Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam Mcarthur said while his party is “supportive of the overall aim of updating hate crime law” there are “significant flaws” with provisions on “stirring up hatred”. Mr Mcarthur said: “For this Bill to receive the support of the Scottish Liberal Democ rats, these issues need to be addressed and the J ustice Secretary must agree to remove any potential threat to free and open debate .“
He added: “We remain committed to working with ministers and others to help deliver legislation that is effective but strikes the proper balance in this complex and sensitive area of law.”