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Hate Crime

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Hate Crime.

Background

Scotland’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into force last week.

It expands existing legislation to include transgender identity as a protected characteristic from hate crimes.

Supporters of the law believe it will provide much-needed protection for the marginalized transgender community.

Critics say it will stifle free speech and even threaten hard-won women’s rights.

The debate has exploded on social media and become intensely polarized. Many famous people such as JK Rowling, Elon Musk and Joe Rogan have made their views known / voiced their concerns.

Before Scottish lawmakers passed the bill, laws already existed across the United Kingdom to criminalize “stirring up hatred” against racial identity.

This new legislation introduces offenses for hate crimes against more characteristics, including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

Biological sex, however, is not included. The government says this is because it intends to put a separate bill criminalizing misogyny before the Scottish parliament at a later date.

Those convicted under the new law could face up to seven years in prison, and/or a fine.

Questions

Why has female hate crime not been included? Doesn’t this penalize women and favour misogynists?

What type of behaviour could be considered an offense under the new law?

The law says, ‘It is an offense to behave in a manner or communicate material “that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive” with the intention of stirring up hatred.”

“The test for ‘threatening’ is obviously much, much higher than the test for ‘abusive,’”

“What somebody sees as abusive varies from person to person.”

Isn’t speech subjective?

What about comedy, literature, theatre and art?

There is confusion about whether or not the act would make misgendering someone online a crime.

Is it reasonable to let the police decide what is and what isn’t hate speech?

JK Rowling deliberately misgendered several trans women online and dared police to arrest her.

Scotland has proposed further reforms to the bill that would allow transgender people to self-identify, without the need for a medical diagnosis or certificate.

To widen the discussion
How would you define freedom of speech? Should people be allowed to say what they want?

Have you ever been a victim of hate crime?

Should language be censored by law? Sticks and stones may break my bones but calling never hurt me

How would you define religious hate crime?

Should the focus be on criminalizing hateful behaviour rather than hateful speech? If so, how can such behaviour be effectively defined and prosecuted?

Can you criminalize such a subjective area?

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