Wednesday 23 September 2020




Most people who visit Scotland will come away with fond memories of the beautiful scenery, which in parts cannot be surpassed by its beauty part of the world.

 How shameful then that a Bill is being proposed to be passed in the Scottish Parliament which will virtually prohibit the preaching of the Bible and other Holy books, as spreading hatred. 

 It is being steered through by the Scottish Justice Secretary, Humsa Yousaf, and is being welcome by the Convenor of Atheists for Scotland, who is quoted as saying, as he welcomes Yousaf’s Bill, ‘we fully intend to monitor all Holy books, sermons in places of worship, and the social media accounts of the various  religions and report any hatred to Police Scotland for criminal investigation.

 The Rev. David Robertson, a former Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, suggested how the letter perfectly illustrates  why the legislation should not be made law.

 What the Convenor was saying in effect, all religions should be closed down unless his authority is accepted. And regards any disagreements with any of his fundamental beliefs as self-evident hate.

 The Bill is said to propose

no free speech clause on marriage - unlike England, Wales and Northern Ireland;

has thresholds so low that you could even commit a criminal offence without intending to;

could see people prosecuted for things said in the privacy of their own home;

has no free speech clause protecting discussion of transgenderism – a controversial issue which totally undermines a ‘one man, one woman’ definition of marriage;

has no backstop to prevent misuse of the law - unlike England and Wales where the Attorney General (or in Northern Ireland the DPP) must give permission to prosecute.

The law covers all publications distributed in Scotland. If Police Scotland believe an English newspaper on sale in Edinburgh “is likely” to “stir up hatred”, they could get a warrant from a Scottish Court, drive down to London and arrest the editor.  

The Public Order Act of 1986 gives protection, which applies in England and Wales and is duplicated in Northern Ireland, allows people to speak freely about traditional marriage without fear of the criminal law.

Journalists, Judges, and Police authorities, lawyers, actors, academics, feminists, civil liberties groups, politicians from all parties, Scottish Newspaper Society, have all expressed concern about the proposed legislation.  Even the BBC have raised objections of the Bill, recognising the danger these plans threaten, fundamental freedoms of speech, and when the BBC express such view, then it must be serious.

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