The Scottish Government’s proposed hate crime Bill poses a “dire risk” to freedom of expression, according to the director of a judicial think-tank.
Jacob Mchangama of Danish think-tank Justitia said that the Bill does not consider the “ramifications on the functioning of a liberal democracy”.
Last week, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed he is amending the draft Bill to require intent to stir up hatred. However, other dangerous aspects of the Bill – including the absence of crucial free speech clauses – remain unchanged.
The think-tank made a submission as part of the call for views on the Bill earlier this year.
It said it was “concerning” that the Bill merges hate crime and hate speech “given that speech and physical violence are two separate themes which are dealt with differently also under international and European human rights law.”
The submission continued: “Furthermore, in terms of stirring up hatred, the present Bill endorses a much lower threshold than what is set out at an international and European level.”
The Scottish Government said: “Justitia’s criticisms pre-date the Justice Secretary’s announcement of our intention to significantly amend the Bill around the new stirring up offences.”