Last year for International Women’s Day we held a fantastic demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Lockdown restrictions prevent us from doing similar this year, but we really wanted to get across the strength of feeling about the Hate Crime Bill and the detrimental impact it will have on free speech and women’s rights in Scotland.
So we are hosting a virtual demo instead! This is our message to our politicians that Women Are Watching what is debated and voted on in Parliament on 10th March, even if we cannot be there in person.
Thank you to everyone who joined in and sent us photographs – a video compilation is on our YouTube and also shown here, along with all the photographs.
The following was sent to all MSPs on 7th March 2021. It can also be downloaded as a pdf here.
Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill Briefing for Stage 3, 10th March 2021
For Women Scotland (FWS) is a grassroots women’s rights group concerned with protecting and strengthening existing rights for women under UK and Scots Law. We have twice given evidence to the Justice Committee on the potential impact of the Hate Crime Bill on women, following consultation with our extensive network across Scotland. We have prepared the following briefing on the amendments proposed at Stage 3.
We should first like to highlight our concerns with regard to the process of consultation, especially in consideration of women’s rights. As a consequence of Parliamentary Questions lodged by Elaine Smith MSP on 5th February (refs S5W-35023 and S5W-35024) which concern consultation with women, we have written to the Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans, this week asking how the Scottish Government attempts to comply with the Scottish Government Consultation Good Practice Guidance, in particular section 2B:
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: