SG use of IHRA definition of anti-Semitism: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/01537
Date received: 26 May 2018
Date responded: 26 June 2018

Information requested

  1. Whether the Scottish Government adopted the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)] definition [of anti-Semitism] in full, i.e. the statement and the examples;

  2. The range of public bodies to which the Scottish Government's adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition applies;

  3. Whether the Scottish Government's position is advisory and therefore a suggestion with regard to a definition of anti-Semitism which public bodies may wish to use but can refuse;

  4. Whether any organisations that believe the definition to be flawed [were] consulted about their concerns and if so, which organisations were involved in these consultations (and to provide copies of correspondence with them and also with the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and Community Safety Trust with regard to the adoption of the IHRA definition);

  5. For details and documentation of any legal advice that the Scottish Government sought on this matter before adopting the definition;

  6. For disciplinary procedures used against staff of public bodies as a result of the Scottish Government's adoption of the definition; details of the number of people who have been disciplined in any way and what sanctions were imposed.


  1. The Scottish Government formally adopted the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)/International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in June 2017. This means that we adopted the statement "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."

  2. and 3. The definition will help to inform the Scottish Government's work in this area and we will continue to work with key partners to explore how using this definition translates into operational practice. However, it is for individual public bodies to decide whether or not to adopt the IHRA definition. The definition is not legally binding, which is made clear in the text of the definition.

  3. The decision to adopt the IHRA was not subject to public consultation. However, the Scottish Government discussed the definition with the Scottish Council for Jewish Communities and the Community Security Trust on 16 May 2017. The minutes of the meeting were shared via email with both organisations and are at Annex B.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested. These reasons for this are provided below.

Reasons for not providing information

In relation to Question 5, concerning legal advice, the Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for.

In relation to Question 6, concerning disciplinary records, the Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because disciplinary records are a matter for the organisation concerned and this information is not reported to the Scottish Government.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

Annex B.pdf


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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