Hate Crime laws come into force in Scotland

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act has come into force, intended to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice.

The Act is designed to provide greater protection for victims and communities. It introduces new offences for threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred based on prejudice towards characteristics including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

The new laws were developed following Lord Bracadale’s Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation. The review found that new specific offences relating to stirring up hatred were needed.

The legislation was passed in the Scottish Parliament in 2021, by a majority of MSPs.

Minister for Victims and Community Safety Siobhian Brown said: “Nobody in our society should live in fear and we are committed to building safer communities that live free from hatred and prejudice. We know that the impact on those on the receiving end of physical, verbal or online attacks can be traumatic and life-changing. This legislation is an essential element of our wider approach to tackling that harm.

“Protections for freedom of expression are built into the legislation passed by Parliament and these new offences have a higher threshold for criminality than the long-standing offence of stirring up racial hatred, which has been in place since 1986.”


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