Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill Call for Views


The Justice Committee will scrutinise the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill in the coming months. The Committee is therefore asking for views on the Bill.

According to the Scottish Government, this Bill provides for the modernising, consolidating and extending of hate crime legislation in Scotland. In its view, legislation in this area has evolved over time in a fragmented manner with the result that different elements of hate crime law are located in different statutes, there is a lack of consistency, and the relevant legislation is not as user-friendly as it could be.  In its opinion, the new hate crime legislation will provide greater clarity, transparency and consistency.

In addition to consolidation, the Bill seeks to modernise and extend existing hate crime legislation by:

  • adding age as a new characteristic in connection with the aggravation of offences by prejudice under Part 1 of the Bill;
  • creating new offences relating to stirring up hatred in Part 2 of the Bill that will apply in relation to all listed characteristics (including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics) (currently these offences only relate to race);
  • updating the definition of transgender identity in Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill, including removing the term ‘intersexuality’ and creating a separate category for variations in sex characteristics; and
  • including a power to enable the characteristic of sex to be added to the lists of characteristics referred to in Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill by regulations at a later date, once the Bill has passed.

The Bill will also abolish the common law offence of blasphemy.  The offence has not been prosecuted in Scotland for more than 175 years and, according to the Scottish Government, no longer reflects the kind of society in which we live.

Please note that in most cases your written submission will be published on the Scottish Parliament's website and may be quoted in the Committee's report or in Committee meetings (which are in public and broadcasted).

If you wish to request that your submission be published without your name, please contact the clerks by emailing [email protected] or telephoning 0131 348 5047.

Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data.

Background to the Bill

The Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government on 23 April. A copy of the Bill and the accompanying documents can be found here. The Scottish Government has also produced the following impact assessments for the Bill: The Bill is in 5 Parts. The Bill’s impact assessments can be found here.

How to submit your views

The Committee welcomes your views on any issue relating to the Bill. This could include views on any of the following areas or questions:


1.    Do you think there is a need for this Bill and, if so, why? Are there alternatives to this legislation that would be effective, such as non-legislative measures, wider reforms to police or criminal justice procedures? Are there other provisions you would have liked to have seen in the Bill or other improvements that should have been made to the law on hate crime?


2.    The Bill brings together the majority of existing hate crime laws into one piece of legislation. Do you believe there is merit in the consolidation of existing hate crime laws and should all such laws be covered?

How to prosecute hate crime?

3.    Do you think that the statutory aggravation model should be the main means for prosecuting hate crimes in Scotland? Should it be used in all circumstances or are there protected characteristics that should be approached differently and why? For example, the merits of a statutory aggravation for sex hostility rather than a standalone offence for misogynistic harassment?

4.    Do you think that a new statutory aggravation on age hostility should be added to Scottish hate crime legislation? Would any alternative means be measured effective? For example, would there have been merit in introducing a statutory aggravation (outwith hate crime legislation) for the exploitation of the vulnerability of the victim?

Other forms of crime not included in the Bill

5.    Do you think that sectarianism should have been specifically addressed in this Bill and defined in hate crime legislation? For example, should a statutory aggravation relating to sectarianism or a standalone offence have been created and added?

Stirring up offences

6.    Do you have views on the merits of Part 2 of the Bill and the plans to introduce a new offence of stirring up of hatred?

7.    Do you have any views on the Scottish Government’s plans to retain the threshold of ‘threatening, abusive or insulting’ behaviour in relation to the stirring up of racial hatred, contrary to Lord Bracadale’s views that ‘insulting’ should be removed?

Other issues

8.    Do you have any comments on what should be covered by the ‘protection of freedom of expression’ provision in the Bill?

9.    Do you agree with the Scottish Government that Section 50A of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 about racially aggravated harassment should not be repealed?

10. What is your view on the plans for the abolition of the offence of blasphemy?

Your response does not need to cover all of these areas and you can focus on those that are relevant to you or your organisation. Also, you are welcome to cover other areas in your submission that you think are relevant to the Committee’s consideration of the Bill.

Please note that the Justice Committee does not involve itself in individual cases or complaints. While you may draw on any of your own personal experiences, your submission should focus on issues relating to the Bill. There are a few situations where we may not choose to publish your evidence or have to edit it before publication for legal reasons, including data protection and defamation.

The closing date for receipt of submissions is 24 July 2020. Due to the time required to process and analyse evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the agreement of the clerk.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. If possible, we would be grateful if you could keep your submission to a maximum of 4 to 6 sides of A4. Please send your submission by email to:

[email protected]  


If you have any questions relating to this call for views or the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill, please email [email protected].

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