Free speech pledge for Scots sectarian Bill

The Scottish Government has promised to include a free speech clause in its controversial anti-sectarianism Bill, but details have yet to be revealed.

There has been widespread concern that the Bill – which aims to tackle sectarian hatred – is ill-conceived and may harm free speech and religious liberty.

The promise of a free speech clause was made after a meeting between First Minister Alex Salmond and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Paisley, Philip Tartaglia – one of the Bill’s outspoken critics.


The particulars of a free speech clause have not yet been revealed, and many will want to see it before commenting.

After his meeting with the Bishop, Alex Salmond told the media: “This legislation was never meant to stop freedom of expression in Scotland – it is about bearing down on sectarianism and other offensive behaviour in Scotland, and stopping the expression of bigotry and hatred that the overwhelming majority of people in this country wish to see come to an end.”

Bishop Tartaglia said: “I share the concerns of the Scottish Government that sectarianism should be eradicated from Scottish society.”


But there have been concerns that the Bill may harm freedom of expression, the Bishop added.

He said the Scottish Government had “recognised” these concerns.

No date has been announced for the publication of a proposed free speech clause.

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