Scottish Election 2021: Tories pledge to protect women from hate crime

Controversial “elements” of the Hate Crime Bill would be repealed by the Scottish Conservatives, with the law amended to ensure women are protected.

Election pledges from the the party’s justice spokesperson Liam Kerr would see a “dwelling defence” for private conversations at home introduced as well as a sex aggravator added to the Bill.

The Scottish Conservatives were the only party not to support the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, which was one of the final pieces of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament before dissolution for the election campaign last week.

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Annie Wells said the Scottish Tories would repeal the Hate Crime Bill.

Sections of the legislation have also been criticised by religious and cultural groups, writers, journalists, free speech campaigners, the legal profession and police.

Mr Kerr said: “This scandalous SNP law gives no defence to people for what they say in the privacy of their own homes.

“Yet it was backed by Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens. The Scottish Conservatives successfully fought to remove other extreme elements from the legislation before it was forced through.

“We are committed to repealing every single line that threatens free speech. We are on the side of the public, with nine out of ten Scots cherishing free speech and recognising it as a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy.

“This shows the danger of an SNP majority at Holyrood and confirms that we are the only party strong enough to stand up to them.

“It the SNP get their way in this election, they would have unchecked power and, as this Bill proves, that is a terrifying prospect.”

His party’s candidate for Glasgow Provan, Annie Wells, said: “I am appalled that women are not given the same protection as other groups. This cannot stand and we will do everything possible to fix this SNP law.

“None of us question the need for genuine hate crime to be punished, but we believe this act is dangerous and goes too far, but, crucially, also fails to protect women.”

The Bill, which consolidates previous hate crime laws and adds new offences of “stirring up” hatred against protected characteristics of religion, age, disability and transgender identity, was passed with 82 votes in support, 32 against and four abstentions.

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