The Scottish Justice Committee has launched an extremely short 96-hour public consultation on the Scottish Government’s controversial hate crime Bill.
The Committee is seeking views on a range of options on free speech protections, but The Christian Institute warns that none of the options adequately protects the right to speak out on issues such as sexuality or radical gender ideology.
The consultation is set to close at 10am on Monday 22nd February.
The Justice Secretary wrote to the Committee last month outlining four options which he said would help, through ‘stakeholder collaboration’, to “inform the decisions to be made by Parliament on freedom of expression”.
He added: “None of these options are Scottish Government preferred options; instead they set out how Parliament could decide to include freedom of expression provision.”
Mr Yousaf argued that each option would protect “discussion or criticism” on controversial matters such as transgender identity, or for “stating the fact that one believes sex to be immutable”.
The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert argued that while some options include robust protections for debate on religion, none of the options “gives strong enough protection for discussions around sexual orientation and transgender identity”.
He added the proposals are “watering down existing protection in the Bill for speech about sexual orientation”.
“Everyone knows these are hotly-debated issues. It is crucial that freedom to disagree about them is clearly protected in the new ‘stirring up hatred’ offences created by the Bill.
“Christians have deeply-held beliefs about sexual ethics and behaviour as well as about other religions. Sharing these beliefs should not be at risk of criminalisation.”