McArthur: Much work to do on Hate Crime Bill “riddled with problems”

Commenting following publication of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee’s Stage 1 report on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP commented: 

“The bill presented to parliament by the Scottish Government was riddled with problems. Vague language, blurred boundaries and inadequate protections for freedom of expression led to serious and legitimate concerns being voiced by almost every group with an interest in the bill.

“Thanks to pressure from Scottish Liberal Democrats and others, the Justice Secretary has already made significant concessions, notably restricting the ‘stirring up’ provisions. 

“However, as welcome as these concessions undoubtedly are, there is much work still to do in addressing fundamental concerns. I am determined, for example, to see further protections provided for freedom of expression and will bring forward amendments at Stage 2.  

“However, the Justice Committee has worked hard and collaboratively to produce a Stage 1 report that hopefully goes some way to reflecting and allaying many of the concerns raised by witnesses. In the fight to tackle hate crime, parliament must avoid passing legislation that has dangerous, unintended consequences and ultimately makes that fight even more difficult.”

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