Hate Crime Bill – email MSPs

The Hate Crime Bill reaches the final stage in its passage through Parliament next Wednesday 10th March, when MSPs consider the final amendments and vote on whether the Bill passes into legislation.

Time is very short so we are asking for people to email their MSPs today to highlight outstanding concerns with the Bill and to press them to support amendments that will protect women and all our rights to free speech. We are calling for ‘sex’ to be added to Part 1 of the Bill and, since the freedom of expression protections remain weak, we are also calling for Part 2 to be scrapped.

Everyone has one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs – they will all be voting next Wednesday so please contact all eight of them. To find out who they are and their email addresses just enter your postcode here. Remember to put your address at the bottom of your email so MSPs know you are in their constituency/region.

Please ask your MSPs to SUPPORT the following amendments on Wednesday:

  • Amendment 4 by Johann Lamont to add sex as characteristic to Part 1 of the Bill (aggravation of offences). Women have been calling for this since it was first proposed 18 years ago and Lord Bracadale’s recent review recommended its inclusion. Women are hugely, and increasingly, impacted by hate crimes and the Bill should not pass into law without us. This does not stop any work by the working group on misogyny, and will actually provide them with useful data.
  • Amendment 17 by Johann Lamont to add the definition of sex, as it is given in the Equality Act 2010. This will provide important clarity whether sex is added to the Bill now or at a later date by the decision of the separate misogyny working group. It will also ensure the Part 3 requirement for data collection by the police is consistent with the Public Sector Equality Duties in the Equality Act.
  • Amendment 26 by Johann Lamont to remove the possibility for sex to be redefined. Sex is defined by the Equality Act and by all prominent international organisations as a biological characteristic. There is no need for an “interpretive provision” which could possibly result in conflation with gender identity. The Scottish Government has been clear that sex and gender are two separate concepts so there is no need for a clause in the Bill that will introduce confusion.
  • Amendments 35, 36, 39 & 40 by Johann Lamont to change the definition of sexual orientation. The Bill refers to “a different sex” which implies there are more than two sexes and should be corrected.
  • Amendments 37 & 41 by Johann Lamont to remove cross-dressers. It is outrageous that something that is best a fashion choice or at worst a sexual fetish is protected in law and ahead of any provision for women. There is zero evidence of any hate crimes against cross-dressers.
  • Amendments 6-10 and 13 by Liam Kerr to leave out Part 2 of the Bill. The amendments proposed by the Scottish Government do not go far enough to protect free speech and will not prevent a chilling effect on women’s ability to discuss their rights or partake in debates on reform of the Gender Recognition Act. This is demonstrated by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice being unable to confirm there are only two sexes for fear of accusations of transphobia. When the Scottish Trans Alliance call for stickers with the definition of women to be reported as hate crimes, and, even whilst giving evidence to Committee, call a women’s rights declaration based on CEDAW transphobic, it is clear that women will face malicious reporting. These concerns have been raised by a large number of different groups in the last minute consultation in February, and have not been adequately addressed. Part 2 of the Bill is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped altogether.

    However, if MSPs cannot support scrapping of Part 2 it is essential to support Amendments 11B-11F by Johann Lamont, any of which will go some way to allay women’s fears over protection of free speech.

Please also ask your MSPs to REJECT Amendment 24 by Humza Yousaf which proposes to downgrade the mandatory collection of data on hate crimes by sex to data that “may” be collected. There is currently no data on how many female victims of hate crimes there are across the characteristics, compared to men. Many organisations, including FWS and Engender, have stressed how important it is to have sex-disaggregated data.

The latest amendment list runs to some 10 pages in length, so the above list is not exhaustive of all helpful amendments. You may wish to include others, particularly regarding freedom of expression or the dwelling defence. Please feel free to change or add to the comments above when emailing your MSPs.

Please see our Stage 3 Briefing to MSPs on the Hate Crime Bill and our latest action for you to take part in – our VIRTUAL DEMO to send the message to our politicians that Women Are Watching, even if we cannot be at Parliament in person on Wednesday.