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Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill


Hate crime is the phrase used to describe behaviour which is both criminal and based on prejudice.

There are already laws in place to protect certain groups from hate crime.

This Bill aims to do three things. It updates these existing laws and pulls most of these laws into one Bill. It also adds to the groups currently specifically protected by hate crime laws. 
Criminal courts can generally take into account any prejudice when sentencing a person. Also, people are protected from hate crime through specific laws that apply. 

People are currently protected by specific laws on the basis of:

  • disability
  • race (and related characteristics)
  • religion
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender identity

This Bill adds age to that list and allows sex to be added at a later date.

The Bill creates a new crime of stirring up hatred against any of the protected groups covered by the Bill.

The Bill also abolishes the offence of blasphemy which has not been prosecuted in Scotland for more than 175 years.

You can find out more in the Explanatory Notes document that explains the Bill.

Why the Bill was created

The Bill is a response to the recommendations made in Lord Bracadale’s independent review of hate crime laws.

The Bill has been created to make sure that the groups covered by the Bill are protected from hate crimes. It also makes sure that the laws that provide that protection are fit for the 21st century.

Crimes motivated by prejudice will be treated more seriously and will not be tolerated by society. The Bill has been created to make this clear to victims, those who commit hate crimes, and the wider society.

You can find out more in the Policy Memorandum document that explains the Bill.

Where do laws come from?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • agriculture and fisheries
  • education and training
  • environment
  • health and social services
  • housing
  • justice and policing
  • local government
  • some aspects of tax and social security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Laws that are decided by the Scottish Parliament come from:

Bill stage timeline

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill is currently at Stage 1


The Scottish Government sends the Bill and related documents to the Parliament.

Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill as introduced

Financial Resolution

The Presiding Officer has decided under Rule 9.12 of Standing Orders that a financial resolution is required for this Bill.

Stage 1 - General principles

Committees examine the Bill. Then MSPs vote on whether it should continue to Stage 2.

The Parliament agrees that consideration of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill at stage 1 be completed by 18 December 2020.

Have your say

The deadline for sharing your views on this Bill is 24 July 2020. 

Committees involved in this Bill

Lead committee: Justice Committee

Who examined the Bill

Each Bill is examined by a 'lead committee'. This is the committee that has the subject of the Bill in its remit.

It looks at everything to do with the Bill.

Other committees may look at certain parts of the Bill if it covers subjects they deal with.

What is secondary legislation?

Secondary legislation is sometimes called 'subordinate' or 'delegated' legislation. It can be used to:

  • bring a section or sections of a law that’s already been passed, into force
  • give details of how a law will be applied
  • make changes to the law without a new Act having to be passed

An Act is a Bill that’s been approved by Parliament and given Royal Assent (formally approved).

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