Murdo Fraser sets out reasons for opposing Hate Crime Bill

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has described the “unintended” consequence of the controversial Hate Crime Bill as being “deeply damaging.”

The Mid Scotland and Fife region politician, who took part in a recent debate on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill at Holyrood, said he acknowledged that all hate crime should be deplored but feels the SNP Government are not tackling the issue in the right manner.

Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “It is no surprise that we have seen heavily divided opinion around part 2 of this Bill, with a broad coalition of voices being raised against what the SNP Government are proposing. So, we see faith groups, secularists, human rights campaigners, writers, comedians and academics, all expressing serious concern around the impact on free speech from what is being proposed.

“We know that there are those who want to use the law to close down debate. There is no more current example of that issue than in the dispute between transactivists and feminists over the definition of what is a woman, or a need to protect women's spaces.

“There is a real concern that the legislation proposed here will be weaponised by those who want to close down debate, who want to silence those who have a different view. And that is deeply dangerous to our society. For it is only by debating ideas, by robustly challenging each other, that society is able to advance, and reform is achieved.”

Mr Fraser continued: “There is no need for legislation to defend popular opinions. It is opinions which are unpopular that need to be protected, and substantial concerns remain as to the impact that this Bill will have on those expressing views that are not held to be part of the mainstream.

“I have been contacted by many constituents, including Rev Jim Crooks of Tayside Christian Fellowship in Perth, who are bitterly opposed to this Bill. I decided to vote against the Bill as I feel that the unintended consequence of it may well be deeply damaging to free speech in Scotland, and that is not something I could ever support.”

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