Scottish Justice Sec Demands ‘Hate Speech’ at Home Be Prosecuted

Mark Runnacles/Getty

Humza Yousaf has said that he wants Scotland’s new hate crime bill to criminalise conversations in private homes, if they allegedly stir up hatred.

Journalists, Christians, secular groups, comedians, writers, academics, and the police have all come out in objection to the proposed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill which would criminalise the perceived stirring up of hatred against a group with ‘protected characteristics’, such as religion, sexual orientation, or race.

Despite reports last month that the proposed law would be ‘watered down’, so that authorities would still require evidence of intent to offend in order to secure a conviction, Mr Yousaf, of the leftist separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) wants the law to have the power to invade people’s private homes, according to The Times.

Yousaf said there would not be a “dwelling defence” — such as in the 1986 Public Order Act which outlaws abusive, threatening, or insulting words if uttered in your own home — so that discussions at a dinner table could land a Scotsman in court for hate speech.

“Are we comfortable giving a defence to somebody whose behaviour is threatening or abusive, which is intentionally stirring up hatred against, for example, Muslims? Are we saying that that is justified because that is in the home?… If your intention was to stir up hatred against Jews… then I think that deserves criminal sanction,” Mr Yousaf told Members of the Scottish Parliament.

In reaction to Wednesday’s Times report, Mr Yousaf doubled down on his position, saying: “If you invite ten mates round and it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that you intentionally stirred up hatred against Jews, why should this not be prosecuted? It would if you did so down the pub but not in your house?”

Head of the Free Speech Union Toby Young warned that this type of censorship might occur south of the border, saying on Wednesday in response the to the report: “The Law Commission of England and Wales is proposing to change the law so exactly the same thing applies here.”

Concerns have been raised over the effect the Scottish law will have on freedom of speech, including on comedy, with Yousaf saying he wants the rules to be applicable the theatre directors and journalists, too.

Christians fear that the law could even result in the Bible being at risk of being considered offensive material. The Free Church of Scotland said in July that as “the offence of possessing inflammatory material could lead to books and other materials being confiscated and destroyed”, quoting verses deemed offensive could see “the Bible itself” be taken and disposed of.

Likewise, Scottish Catholic bishops worry that “possessing inflammatory material could even render material such as the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church … inflammatory”.

In August, the head of Atheists Scotland Ian Stewart said that he looked forward to the passing of the bill, which could be used to “enable the prosecution of all Scotland’s religions and their Holy Books for spreading hatred”.

The National Secular Society for its part, however, warned that the proposed law would threaten the freedom to criticise religion, warning in July that the bill “risks capturing a vast array of speech and will create an unreasonable expectation that religious sensibilities are protected by something akin to a blasphemy law”. Even with the recent inclusion of needing to prove intent to offend, the secular group said that that was not enough and that the bill remains “a menace to free and open debate”.

In July, Markus Meechan, the Scottish Youtuber and free speech advocate known artistically as Count Dankula, warned that the bill was a new form of puritanism which would criminalise jokes and memes, and “restricts the human right of freedom of expression”.

Mr Meechan told Breitbart London: “It outlaws many forms of expression through mediums ranging from online communications right up to live comedy performances, and it justifies this with the term ‘stirring up hatred’, something completely subjective and the legislation defines this term so poorly, if at all, and the term itself is completely without merit.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.