A new definition of hate: the police will also investigate mockery and insults. “The state reaches into the home”

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Scotland has democratically descended into a progressive dystopia straight out of a George Orwell novel. Such voices are also heard after the new law on hate crimes (The Hate and Public Order Scotland) Act is due to come into force on Monday. It significantly expands the number of criteria on the basis of which a person can be investigated by the police. The new criteria include age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The law makes it a crime to incite hatred against someone who exhibits such characteristics. But the law also deals with terms such as “antipathy, ridicule or insults”. Critics warn that people will begin to be investigated en masse not based on evidence, but on feelings and grievances. They also criticize that the police have new extensive powers to investigate these acts even on the basis of anonymous reports. For example, The Telegraph or the BBC informs.

The law was proposed by the then Minister of Justice and current Scottish Prime Minister Humza Yousaf as early as 2021. According to him, it will move Scotland into the 21st century when it comes to fighting hate. This is a whole set of new crimes and the cancellation of some old ones. For example, blasphemy, which was last investigated in Scotland in 1843.

According to critics, however, the law will lead to the suppression of freedom of speech and thanks to it, the state will reach people’s homes. For example, they warn that the law violates the right to privacy. Under the law, police could investigate and search the home of a family in which a child reports their parent’s transgender views as a hate crime.

The law also comes into effect at a time when Police Scotland has announced it will not investigate, for example, petty theft and other minor crimes due to a lack of resources. The former general secretary of the Scottish Police Union, Calum Steele, for example, spoke to The Telegraph about what the new law can lead to and what demands it will have on the police.

“I know colleagues are already shifting resources from other departments to prepare for the increase in reported hate crimes,” he said. He also warned of an increase in reports of hate from people who just want to settle scores with each other. “I can’t imagine, for example, how you can prove that someone wasted the police’s time when the whole case is based on impression instead of evidence,” Steele said.

Critics also point out that if the police find that hate speech does not meet the elements of a crime, it will remain on the register of non-criminal hate incidents. This can complicate people’s future employment, for example. This is because people will have a police record to a greater extent without being proven to have committed a crime. The register has been operating in Scotland for a long time, but critics say it will swell with the expansion of the definition of hate. The police insist that the entries in the register are anonymous.

However, this is disputed by Scottish MP Murdo Fraser. He got into the registry after he commented on the government’s proposals in the area of ​​non-binary people on the X network. “Identifying as non-binary is just as valid as identifying as a cat. I am sure that governments should not devote their time to either,” he said. A few months later, he became aware of his anonymous entry on the register when the Scottish Parliament was dealing with another complaint against him and, as part of its investigation, the committee requested information about his offences, which included his case number on the register.

The law comes as similar hate registers have been suspended in England and Wales following a court ruling. Another criticism that the law faces is that the concept of gender is missing among the defined characteristics. A separate bill to deal with misogynistic offenses has begun to be drafted in the Scottish Parliament, following criticism from feminist organizations who fear they will be reported en masse by transgender activists from Monday.

Criticism of the law is not only raised by politicians. The British Free Speech Union has already announced that it will fight for the law to be repealed and that it will provide its members with a lawyer if they are targeted by the new law.

Police and supporters of the law assure that the law respects freedom of speech and that the offense will have to be serious enough for the police to investigate. Severity will be assessed according to two criteria. First, whether a reasonable person would find the speech threatening or offensive. And the second criterion will be whether the act shows an intention towards the mentioned population groups.

The article is in Czech

Tags: definition hate police investigate mockery insults state reaches home

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