New Scotland Hate Crime Law Sparks Free Speech Debate

New Scotland Hate Crime Law Sparks Free Speech Debate

A new “hate crime” law came into effect April 1 in Scotland that many believe poses an inherent threat to free speech.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 has created a new criminal offense of “stirring up hatred” against individuals due to one or more of certain protected characteristics: age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or variations in sex characteristics (intersex individuals).

“The law seems to be designed to stop free speech and impose the LGBTQ agenda on all of Scotland,” Franklin Graham posted on Facebook Wednesday.

Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to protest the law and its potential effects on free speech.

A person breaks the new law if he or she “behaves in a manner” or “communicates to another person material that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive.” Additionally, one of these two requirements must be met: “in doing so, the person intends to stir up hatred against a group of persons” with a protected characteristic, or “a reasonable person would consider the behavior or the communication of the material to be likely to result in hatred being stirred up against such a group.”

Many have objected to this law, expressing concern that the wording of it could easily allow transgender activists to weaponize the law against those who disagree with LGBTQ ideology. While there is a section in the bill addressing free speech and expression, the concern is still very widespread.

“We all know that primarily this is directed at the LGBTQ revolution and supporting, driving that revolution, protecting the essential claims of that revolution,” Albert Mohler said on The Briefing. He points out that the subjective wording of the law puts the power to define what is and is not a hate crime in the hands of those driven by the government’s agenda.

“Now, supposedly there are protections written in for religious liberty and for freedom of speech, but that is an illusion because what you have here is one of the most repressive laws, to my knowledge, ever adopted anywhere,” Mohler said. “A repressive government wants to scare you from speaking out loud.”

One of the most outspoken and well-known critics of the law is famed author J.K. Rowling. Franklin commended her outspokenness on Facebook: “She’s got guts. … She has described transgender women as men—referring to their biological sex. There’s nothing wrong with that. She’s right—I agree with her 100%.”

Rowling has taken to X with her criticism of the new law, and has been met with hateful backlash from LGBTQ activists. “Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal,” she said.

The community safety minister of the Scottish National Party (SNP) gave the impression that the new law could result in police investigation for “misgendering” someone online.

After this, J.K. Rowling challenged the law on the day it came into effect in a series of posts on X, daring police to arrest her. “In passing the Scottish Hate Crime Act,” she said, “Scottish lawmakers seem to have placed higher value on the feelings of men performing their idea of femaleness, however misogynistically or opportunistically, than on the rights and freedoms of actual women and girls.”

Rowling said the new law creates an opportunity for activists to abuse and silence women who speak out against males in women’s private spaces and sports; men taking honors, positions and opportunities from women; and who speak for “the reality and immutability of biological sex.”

In the thread, Rowling highlighted several criminal cases of men who identified as women who sexually assaulted biological women and girls. She also highlighted alleged hypocrisy among other transgender public figures. In the final post, she purposefully and clearly referred to each of these transgender people as men, and not women, due to their biological sex.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also criticized the law. “We should not be criminalizing people saying commonsense things about biological sex,” he said. “Clearly that isn’t right. We have a proud tradition of free speech, and I think it just shows … these are the wrong set of priorities for the country.”

Police said that Rowling’s comments on X were not deemed criminal under the new law, to the disappointment of some activists.

“I appreciate the fact that [Rowling’s] willing to stand up for truth and not back down,” Franklin said.

Photo: Iain Masterton / Alamy Stock Photo

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