MSPs have rejected an attempt to halt controversial reforms to hate crime legislation in Scotland. 

The Bill, debated in Holyrood on Thursday, has been called into question by campaigners because of the proposed offence of “stirring up hatred”. 

The Scottish Conservatives put forward a motion during the debate, saying that “the right to freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy and must never be compromised”. 

It also proposed scrapping the Bill altogether and drawing up fresh legislation that will address hate crime “while not threatening to make free speech a crime”.

The motion was voted down by MSPs. 

The Bill has drawn criticism from a wide range of groups, including the BBC, the Catholic Church, The Christian Institute, the Humanist Society, the Scottish Police Federation and the Law Society of Scotland. 

Concerns have been raised that the wording around “stirring up hatred” is too vague and will stifle free speech. 

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has defended the legislation, insisting that it “does not seek to stifle criticism or rigorous debate”, and that scrapping the Bill entirely “would be the wrong thing to do”. 

A public consultation on the proposals has received 2,000 responses, many of them warning about the threat to free speech. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would “listen carefully” to concerns. 


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