New Scottish Hate Crime Law “will not target comedians” - On The Mic

New Scottish Hate Crime Law “will not target comedians”

Legislation introduced by the Scottish Government creates a new offence of stirring up hatred on the grounds of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.

Police training material obtained by The Herald newspaper describes how threatening or abusive material might be communicated, citing examples such as social media posts and ‘public performance of a play’.

Police Scotland said: “We are  not instructing officers to target actors, comedians, or any other people or groups.

“The training material was based on the Scottish Government’s explanatory notes which accompany the legislation. This included examples of a range of scenarios where offences might take place, but this does not mean officers have been told to target these situations or locations.

“Officers balance the protections people have under human rights legislation against other laws every day.

“Our training for the new Act therefore reminds officers of their human rights obligations and it reflects all aspects of the new legislation, including the protection it includes around freedom of expression”.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf, said that the bar was “very high” for what’s deemed abusive. However, a string of authors, actors and comedians from across the political spectrum have expressed alarm at the new law, citing concerns for freedom of speech.

According to the Daily Mail, comedian Al Murray (pictured) said that Scotland’s new hate crime law “has put comedians at high risk of being arrested for gags that are just meant as tongue-in-cheek,” adding sarcastically, “to be honest, I think for comedians it’s a wonderful opportunity to get yourself arrested and get written about. Or maybe next time I go to Scotland I should simply turn myself in”.

Harry Potter author, JK Rowling tested the law by making what many view as transphobic remarks, adding that she “would rather go to jail than refer to a trans person by their preferred pronouns”. However police said that Rowling’s comments about new hate crime laws “are not assessed to be criminal” and confirmed no further action would be taken.

Time will tell if the legislation will have any impact on comedians performing at the 2024 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Recent News Articles