Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf looks set to water down plans to protect criticism of radical gender ideology in his controversial hate crime Bill.
The proposed free speech clause had stated: “Behaviour or material is not to be taken to be threatening or abusive solely on the basis that it involves or includes discussion or criticism of matters relating to transgender identity.”
The amendment would have helped protect people who uphold the biological understanding of sex from facing criminal investigation.
Women’s groups and leading SNP figures had welcomed the amendment, stressing the need for clear free speech protections on trans issues in the Bill.
But Mr Yousaf tweeted on Monday: “Have spoken to Opposition members & we have all agreed not to move our amendments in relation to Freedom of Expression (Hate Crime).”
Have spoken to Opposition members & we have all agreed not to move our amendments in relation to *Freedom of Expression (Hate Crime). By not moving, will hopefully achieve concensus on a broad FoE clause for Stage 3 that covers all characteristics, so no group feels targetted
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) February 1, 2021
He added that the Government would draft “a broad FoE clause” claiming it would cover “all characteristics, so no group feels targetted”.
The U-turn came after trans activists complained that protecting free speech was to ‘legislate for transphobia’.
Speaking to the Justice Committee on Tuesday, Mr Yousaf claimed that the current Bill would still allow criticism of radical gender ideology “so long as that behaviour of course does not cross the line into being threatening or abusive, and intended to stir up hatred”.
Spokesman for the Free to Disagree campaign Jamie Gillies said conflict over the Government’s amendment shows the hate crime proposals are “unworkable” and called for them to be scrapped.
He said: “Trans activists oppose any suggestion that transgender identity should be criticised or disputed. They hold that merely questioning trans identity is ‘abusive’ and ‘hateful’”.