Hate crime Scotland: Humza Yousaf says it would be 'ludicrous' and 'disgraceful' to repeal legislation

The Scottish Conservatives are planning to force a vote in the Scottish Parliament to repeal the legislation

Humza Yousaf says repealing the Hate Crime Act would be “ludicrous” and “disgraceful”.

The Scottish Conservatives will on Wednesday seek to force a vote in the Scottish Parliament to repeal the legislation, which only came into force at the start of the month.

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Given there is an SNP-Green majority in Holyrood, the motion is likely to be swiftly voted down. But the First Minister said this was the act of a Conservative Party that wanted to “whip up as much deliberate misinformation as possible”.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images.First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images.
First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images.

The new Hate Crime Act makes it an offence to stir up hatred against protected characteristics such as age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. It has consistently been criticised by the Scottish Conservatives, who voted against this legislation while it was still a Bill going through Parliament.

The party’s justice spokesman Russell Findlay is now due to lead a Conservative debate on repealing the act on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked by the First Minister if the push to repeal the act showed the legislation was not fit for purpose, Mr Yousaf said: “No, I don’t agree with that at all. I suspect that the Conservative Party are just doing their best to try to whip up as much deliberate misinformation on the Act as they possibly can.

“If there was the repeal of this Act, we’d be left unfortunately with no protection against hatred whatsoever, neither in terms of statutory aggravators or stirring up offences. It would be a little ludicrous and a disgraceful position for Scotland to be in. That’s why I suspect the motion to repeal the Act won’t go through.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on Monday refused to say whether his party would back the Conservative motion. This comes after the number of hate crime complaints dropped by almost 75 per cent in the second week of the law being in force. Police Scotland received 1,832 complaints between April 8 and 14.

During a speech to the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) in Dundee on Tuesday, the First Minister said the Hate Crime Act was something trade unionists should be in favour of. Mr Yousaf said: “The STUC has a long and proud history of opposing discrimination and bigotry in Scotland.

“You have stood up against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and every form of hatred unequivocally. I have personally benefited from that steadfast support in my own life, for which I will be forever grateful.”

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The First Minister added: “Politicians of all political stripes will often tell us that they have a zero-tolerance approach to hatred. I have to say, that has been sorely tested in the last few weeks with some of the deliberate misinformation we have witnessed in relation to the Hate Crime Act.”



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