Controversial ‘Hate Crime’ legislation passes Scottish parliament

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill passed by a wide margin on Thursday – 82-32 with 4 abstentions – after MSPs debated several amendments through Wednesday.

The legislation consolidates law already on the books. It also applies “stirring up hatred” – itself a relatively new offence that heretofore applied only to race – as an aggravating factor in offences motivated by prejudice with regard to disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity (or variations in sex characteristics), and age.

The law also takes the offence of blasphemy off the books, though no one in Scotland has faced prosecution for that crime in nearly 200 years.

Opponents considered the new “stirring up hatred” offence too broadly defined and tending to curb free speech.

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