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The Bible could be captured under Scotland’s new offence of possessing inflammatory material (Supplied)

Church leaders have expressed concern that some passages in the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church could be deemed offensive under Scotland’s new hate crime legislation and that “vexatious” complaints under the law are now likely. Source: Angelus News.

The Hate Crime and Public Order Act that came into force on Monday creates a new offence of “possessing inflammatory material”, which in the judgment of a police officer could “stir up hatred” on the grounds of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

David Kennedy of the Scottish Police Federation said the new laws will require officers to assess “emotive” subjects and “will cause havoc with trust in police in Scotland”.

During the pre-legislative scrutiny phase in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, members of the Scottish bishops’ conference expressed deep reservations. In a 2020 submission to the Justice Committee where the then-draft law was being discussed, the prelates warned that any new law must be “carefully weighed against fundamental freedoms, such as the right to free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.

The Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office Anthony Horan insisted that “whilst acknowledging that stirring up of hatred is morally wrong and supporting moves to discourage and condemn such behaviour, the bishops have expressed concerns about the lack of clarity around definitions and a potentially low threshold for committing an offence, which they fear, could lead to a ‘deluge of vexatious claims’”.

“A new offence of possessing inflammatory material could even render material such as the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church … inflammatory,” he said.

Mr Horan added that “the Catholic Church’s understanding of the human person, including the belief that sex and gender are not fluid and changeable, could fall foul of the new law.

“Allowing for respectful debate means avoiding censorship and accepting the divergent views and multitude of arguments inhabiting society,” he said.


Could new hate speech law in Scotland target Christians? (By Michael Kelly, Angelus News)