Concerns are being raised about a new far-reaching Hate Crimes and Public Order Bill being proposed in Scotland.
One journalist writing in The Spectator asks whether possession of the Bible could become a criminal offence.
The proposed legislation would make it a crime to possess ‘inflammatory’ material, or communicate ‘insulting’ material to another person.
The planned new law also proposes to catch ‘abusive behaviour’ that is ‘likely to stir up hatred’ irrespective of intention. The offence carries a sentence of seven years in jail.
The bill has been criticised by the Scottish Police Federation, human rights lawyers, and free speech supporters. A new campaign group, Free to Disagree, has been launched.
The group has called on MSPs to amend the bill in the Scottish Parliament. A spokesman said, ‘The new offences are vague and subjective. They pose a serious risk to free speech on a range of issues.
‘Passing the bill in its current form would divorce Scotland from its proud free speech heritage and undermine freedoms that were centuries in the making. This simply cannot be allowed to happen. MSPs must hold the government to account.’