Scotland’s justice secretary Humza Yousaf states that journalists, theater directors and even those who have conversations over the dinner table must face the court if their work is deemed to stir bias.
The country’s proposed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill has received condemnation from critics across the board, including the Scottish Catholic Church, academics, entertainers, and police. If made into law, the bill will introduce an offense of creating hatred against people with “protected” attributes like disability, gender identification, and sexual orientation.
Based loosely on a previous hate crime bill, the law is designed to make abuse and insulting words and behavior actionable offenses, but surpasses it by making it illegal for private citizens to have conversations in their own home that are found to ferment prejudice. Prosecutions will also be made against those who publicly broadcast problematic views on social media or are found to be in possession of materials like images, emails, and memes deemed offensive.
Speaking to the Scottish parliament’s justice committee, Yousaf said that there must be no “dwelling defense” as part of his hate crime bill, which allows those who share their views privately to be protected. Instead, he said that children, family, and house guests must all be protected from hate speech.
According to The Times, Yousaf said, “Are we comfortable giving a defence to somebody whose behaviour is threatening or abusive which is intentionally stirring up hatred against, for example, Muslims? Are we saying that that is justified because that is in the home? . . . If your intention was to stir up hatred against Jews . . . then I think that deserves criminal sanction.”
Yousaf added that journalists and entertainers must not be exempt from the law to prevent activists from stoking bias under the protection of freedom of expression and dramatic license.
“We wouldn’t want to give the likes of Tommy Robinson a defence by saying that he’s ‘a blogger who writes for The Patriot Times so my reasonable defence is that I am a journalist’,” he said.