Court hearing postponed for Scottish feminist charged with hate crime over allegedly transphobic tweets

Court hearing postponed for Scottish feminist charged with hate crime over allegedly transphobic tweets
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley
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A Scottish feminist activist who was charged with a hate crime over allegedly homophobic and transphobic tweets has had her first court hearing postponed. 

Marion Millar was due in Glasgow Sheriff Court today for a preliminary bail hearing when her solicitors were informed by prosecutors that the hearing was postponed until August 17. 

Millar’s supporters have said they still intend to hold a protest on Glasgow Green, a historic site of suffragette rallies in the city. 

Millar was accused of posting allegedly homophobic and transphobic material on social media in 2019 and 2020 when she tweeted a ribbon in purple, white, and green — the colours of the suffragette movement. 

Following an interview at Coatbridge police station on June 3, Millar, who is the mother of two autistic twin boys, was set for a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court on July 20.

Speaking after the interview, Millar stated, "I have been charged, I am absolutely gutted, I can't describe in words the stress this is causing me.”

Millar was not charged under the recent Hate Crime Act passed by MSPs, but under the 2003 Communications Act with a “hate crime aggravator,” and instead was charged under Section 127, which criminalises “grossly offensive” messages.

On June 28, Joanna Cherry, an MP for Edinburgh South West, announced she had been engaged to conduct the defense on behalf of Millar. Cherry said she was sympathetic to Millar’s views on gender recognition and was “returning to practice at the bar on a limited basis” for the first time since she was elected to the U.K. Parliament in 2015, after being granted special permission by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.

In a statement from the weekend, Millar’s lawyers, Glasgow-based Beltrami & Co, announced the bail hearing had been delayed. 

They said: “We have been notified by the Procurator Fiscal that the bail undertaking for our client Marion Millar, which was due to take place on 20th July 2021, has been rescheduled to 17th August 2021.

"No further comment will be made at this time.”

American legal analyst and attorney Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Chair of Public interest Law at George Washington University, has called the case part of a “free speech fight brewing in Scotland”.

He added, “The effort by some to criminally charge advocates [of free speech] like Millar is to silence rather than to respond to opposing viewpoints. 

“Such speech limitations tend to grow with time. Once groups taste the ability to silence others, it becomes an insatiable appetite for censorship and criminalization of speech.”

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