(Last Updated: 1 April 2021)
The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill is one of the most concerning pieces of legislation proposed by the Scottish Government. It has the potential to criminalise individual women and feminist groups that speak out against the erosion of women’s rights due to gender extremism.
The Free to Disagree campaign gives a brief explanation of why the Bill is problematic.
Update: The Bill passed on 11 March by a margin of 82 votes to 32. Despite some great speeches on the Wednesday and Thursday by a number of MSPs, various amendments to include ‘sex’ in the Bill and to improve the protections around free speech were rejected.
CIVITAS – Policing Hate: Have we abandoned freedom and equality?
Joanna Williams – December 2020
Download Policing Hate PDF
By exploring the history, current context and impact of hate crime legislation and drawing upon interviews with academics and campaigners, the report explores the current challenges to equality before the law and free expression.
The author concludes that there should be no extension to existing hate speech legislation. The report finds that no special ‘characteristics’ should receive legal protection in a way that violates the principle of equality under the law. The author proposes that groups with a vested interest in presenting their members as victims of hate crime should not influence hate crime legislation. A future inquiry should be held to review all elements of the law that conflict with freedom of speech.
History of Women and Hate Crime Law
For Women Scotland – 24/11/2020
The Scottish Parliament’s bill process and the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
An explanation of how legislation is brought forward, and how various amendments and rejections can take place.
NEWS & ARTICLES
Councillor Lachlan Bruce: Hate Crime Bill makes Scotland a less free country
East Lothian Courier – 21/03/2021
Analysis: What’s next for the hated Hate Crime Bill?
Free to Disagree – 16/12/2020
* The government has pledged amendments to strengthen free speech protections in the bill, including on the crucial point of debate around women’s rights and transgender identity. Free speech clauses must be robust, or legitimate debate on various issues could be chilled.
* The government has also promised to further-define the term ‘abusive’ in the stirring up hatred offences.
* One issue raised in last night’s debate that could be a sticking point is the idea of a ‘dwelling defence’, protecting words spoken in the privacy of the home. This protection is written into parallel hate crime laws in England and Wales. The Justice Committee notes that the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill should primarily be concerned with behaviour in public. But the government seems to disagree with this. Achieving consensus on the issue will be a challenge.
The Scottish Government has made the Hate Crime Bill controversial
Jenni Davidson (Holyrood Magazine) – 01/12/2020
‘Hate Crime Bill could stop women speaking out on trans issues’
Free to Disagree – 17/11/2020
Policy analysis collective Murray Blackburn Mackenzie (MBM) raised particular concerns over the inclusion of a ‘stirring up hatred’ offence on transgender identity.
Research & analysis
MBM Briefing for Stage 1 debate: Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
Excellent report that focuses on two areas: the exclusion of sex from the hate crime protected characteristics, and aspects of the extension of the offence of stirring up hatred.
Legislating for hatred against women: the view from the coalface
MBM analysis – 04/12/2020
Giving evidence to the Justice Committee on 27 October, the Cabinet Secretary suggested that organisations “at the coalface” were supportive of the approach advocated by the bodies funded at national level to represent women’s interests.
In total, therefore, the Scottish Government obtained the views of six groups providing VAW services locally, of which five supported including an aggravator which would cover hatred against women.
We realise that the term “coalface organisations”, as used by the Minister, is open to interpretation. Of the other non-governmental organisations attending these meetings, City of Edinburgh Council and the Fife Centre for Equalities supported an aggravator rather than a standalone offence, SACRO did not appear to take a strong line on which should be pursued, while Glasgow City Council preferred a standalone offence.
…we think it would be fairer to say that the balance of opinion among those “organisations that represent and work with women at the coalface at a local level” who engaged with the Scottish Government was overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill treating hatred against women on a par with hatred based on other characteristics, with or without further exploration of a standalone offence.
Definition of ‘transgender identity’ in draft hate crime bill
What Do They Know FOI request to Scottish Government – 25/10/2020
(Need to analyse and summarise – all correspondence between Scottish Government officials and the following organisations about the definition of ‘transgender identity’ under the draft Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, prior to the Bill’s introduction in the Scottish Parliament: Equality Network/Scottish Trans Alliance, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall)
In 2016, Nottinghamshire Police introduced a Misogyny Hate Crime policy. An evaluation on the impact of the policy was conducted two years later in 2018, and it highlighted some interesting points.
- The Police were able to send a clear public message that behaviour which denigrates, marginalises and disrespects women is never acceptable and would be challenged. It also helped reassure women that these types of behaviours would be treated seriously by the Police if reported. See press release for more details.
- Women felt more confident in challenging men who targeted them, as they knew they had the backing of police policy.
- Women from BME groups often experienced misogyny hate crime and racial hate crime simultaneously and felt doubly vulnerable to attack.
The Nottinghamshire report did indicate that the use of the term ‘misogyny’ was poorly understood amongst the general public and therefore an alternative name would be a better approach. This indicates that any Hate Crime legislation should implement an easily understood term that makes it clear it is based on the characteristic of sex (and not conflate it with words like ‘gender’). In addition to the legislation, there might be some merit in nationwide campaigns to raise awareness of such laws and enable the general public to understand that hate crime involves the prejudicial targeting of people on the basis of a protected characteristic such as sex, and that it involves an assertion of power over another that is experienced as hostile behaviour rather than a narrow focus on ‘hate’.
The Scotsman – 22/03/2021
Great niece of SNP founder reveals she chalked women’s rights message at government HQ
“…on the evening of Wednesday, February 24, two uniformed police officers appeared at the 52-year-old’s door, asking questions about her chalk protest and, she says, suggesting that any future similar behaviour could result in a charge of breach of the peace.”
Harry Miller vs Humberside Police and the College of Policing – 14/02/2020
High Court Judgement
Pages 13-15 describes how a person who does not know Mr Miller, and has never had any interaction with him, managed to take great offence at some of his tweets on the social media platform Twitter.
Pages 15-17 details the process of how the ‘victim’ proceeded to complain to the police and which resulted in the creation of a non-crime hate incident without any scrutiny or assessment of the claims being made. A Hate Incident Record was generated against Mr Miller even though there was no crime or evidence of hate.
The Times – 19/02/2020
Offensive jokes logged in ‘non-crime’ databases
In the past five years Police Scotland has logged more than 3,300 “hate incidents” that involve no criminality.
GCN – 20/11/2020
Community leaders have launched an open letter calling for solidarity for our trans siblings on this Trans Day of Remembrance.
Letter signed by organisations such as National Women’s Council of Ireland and Amnesty International.
“Let us say unequivocally that the statements of newly launched organisations that seek to defend biology or fight gender identity and expression do not represent the wider LGBTI+ community nor feminists in Ireland. More importantly, they are not organisations at all, they have no governance, no accountability, and are simply Twitter accounts. Further, they are not supported by the wider Irish community.”
“We call on media, and politicians to no longer provide legitimate representation for those that share bigoted beliefs, that are aligned with far right ideologies and seek nothing but harm and division. These fringe internet accounts stand against affirmative medical care of transgender people, and they stand against the right to self-identification of transgender people in this country. In summation they stand against trans, women’s and gay rights by aligning themselves with far right tropes and stances. They have attacked LGBT+ education in school, attacked anti-bullying campaigns, and attack access to medical services.”
“Sex and gender are both spectrums, and the full beauty of that spectrum must be supported and included.”
(Letter indicates self-id has broad societal support and was obtained transparently. Can reference IGLYO and Denton’s document on how self-id was passed in Ireland without public debate and scrutiny.)
The Edinburgh Tab – 27/11/2020
More transphobic stickers have been found on Edinburgh Uni campus
This is a good example of how someone (not even a trans person) can take offence at some stickers seen around the area and view them as ‘hate’.
The woman mentioned in the article made the statement – “I also think hate speech is not free speech so I had every right to take them down.”
There is also another important admission in the article from EUSA’s Trans and Non-Binary Liberation Officer – “Anyone who sees stickers like this should send photos to campus security, so they can be included in ongoing hate crime statistics that are reported to the police.”
This shows that people are being encouraged to report to the police any stickers that they personally and subjectively deem to be ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘upsetting’. This will potentially inflate the hate crime statistics.
What happens when Hate Crime legislation is brought in and such stickers are viewed as ‘stirring up hatred’?
BBC News – 11/12/2020
Terror trial told of ‘incels’ cyber-culture backing attacks on women
This is a very clear (and ongoing) example of a hate crime on the basis of sex by inciting violence against women, and yet because ‘sex’ is not listed as a characteristic in the Hate Crime legislation, this fact will not be used as an aggravating factor during sentencing, nor will this crime be captured in hate crime statistics.