Consultation on amending Scottish hate crime legislation: analysis of responses

Analysis of stakeholders' responses to our consultation on amending Scottish hate crime legislation.

17. Other views

17.1 This final chapter provides a brief summary of other points raised by respondents, some of which have been touched on at individual questions, and some of which have not been covered elsewhere in the report.

17.2 The analysis takes account of comments made at Question 35 of the consultation. This question asked respondents for views on anything else the Scottish Government could include in its proposals to update Scottish hate crime legislation. However, most of those who answered this question (288 respondents – 41 organisations and 247 individuals) simply reiterated points already covered elsewhere in their responses in relation to specific individual questions, or summarised their more general views on hate crime legislation.

17.3 One significant new theme to emerge in response to Question 35 was that of a call for blasphemy laws to be abolished in Scotland. With regard to this issue, respondents made the following common points:

  • The current laws are not used (and haven’t been used since the 17th century).
  • Abolition would be in line with international thinking – many other countries, including England and Wales, have already repealed their blasphemy laws. 
  • Blasphemy laws are inappropriate in a modern, increasingly non-religious society – abolition would highlight the primacy of secular civil law as a basis for regulating all conduct.
  • Blasphemy laws are incompatible with the aims of promoting equality and a positive approach to human rights and freedom of religion, belief and expression.
  • Maintaining historical blasphemy laws provides a justification to other countries which persecute individuals through the use of blasphemy laws – abolition would show solidarity with campaigners elsewhere who challenge persecution. 

17.4 Other general points that arose at Question 35, as well as in response to other questions, included the following:

  • The need for more resourcing – for the police, the courts, for education, awareness raising and community-based initiatives etc. – in order to tackle prejudice and prejudice-based behaviour and respond effectively to hate crime
  • The need for consistency and coordination across different pieces of legislation, and in the implementation and enforcement of the law, with appropriate training to support this
  • The need for the law to be practical and deliverable
  • The need for robust evidence in this area to monitor activity and inform policy development – this included high quality statistics on all aspects of the criminal justice process, based on consistent recording of aggravations (including multiple aggravations), and broken down to appropriate level (including by age, type of disability), more research into causes of hate crime and the needs of victims etc., experience of different groups, and more consultation and engagement with affected groups
  • The need for the media and those in the public sphere to set an example with regard to respectful speech and language.



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