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How Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill ignited a freedom of speech row

Critics of the Hate Crime Bill published last April argued it would silence “gender critical” feminists—fuelling the SNP’s ongoing trans rights dispute

By Chaminda Jayanetti  

Nicola Sturgeon and Joanna Cherry. Photo: Andrew O'Brien / Alamy Stock Photo

When the Scottish government published its Hate Crime and Public Order Bill last April, a major backlash followed.

The claims came thick and fast. JK Rowling would end up in jail. Comedians would be forced to clam up. Plays could be shut down. Libraries could be prosecuted for having books on the shelves.

Veteran journalist Kevin McKenna deemed the plans “deranged,” and warned that the latest stage of “the Scottish Government’s wokey horror picture show” would “punish more people and bring them into line with a narrow, state-approved orthodoxy.” Even the former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars…

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