Speaking as the Scottish Parliament debates the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:
"Hate crime for all protected characteristics is on the rise. And while the culture shift required to reverse this ugly tide will take time, our police, prosecutors and courts need the tools to deal with it when and where it occurs.
“Scotland is not immune from racism or prejudice so we should be looking to ensure our laws are fit for purpose.
"At the same time, we must avoid doing anything that undermines our fundamental freedoms, which ultimately makes the task of combatting hate crime more difficult.
"That is the challenge for the Committee at Stage 2. The Cabinet Secretary has already undertaken major surgery to his bill; but more will be needed if the bill is to gain parliament’s support. With those caveats, however, Scottish Liberal Democrats are content for now to support the principles of this bill."