Scottish justice minister, Humza Yousaf, announced the country has decided to scrap a bill which would allow anti-trans hate speech as part of the proposed ‘Hate Crime and Public Order’ bill. Yousaf proposed the anti-trans amendment to the bill last week, calling it the “protection of freedom of expression” clause, which stated: “Behaviour or material is not to be taken to be threatening or abusive solely on the basis that it involves or includes discussion or criticism of matters relating to transgender identity”.
However, many criticised the new amendment as it would leave leeway for transphobic hate speech. Yousaf then announced on Twitter that the decision had been made to retract the clause, saying: “Have spoken to Opposition members & we have all agreed not to move our amendments in relation to *Freedom of Expression (Hate Crime). We all want to ensure freedom of speech, including the freedom to disagree robustly with any policy, is protected. We also agree that this is not mutually exclusive to protecting the rights of people to be free from hatred.”
He continued to apologise to those who criticised his amendment: “I apologise for any hurt caused – was not my intention.” On the same day that the amendment was retracted, ‘gender critical’ Scottish Nationalist MP, Joanna Cherry, was sacked in a cabinet reshuffle. Cherry openly supported the anti-trans amendment to the hate crime bill. After she was sacked, she tweeted: “Despite hard work, results and a strong reputation I’ve been sacked today from the SNP front bench.”
Cherry’s removal also followed SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, publicly condemning transphobia in a video message where she said: “Trans people have as much right as any of us to be safe, secure and valued for who they are. Transphobia is wrong, and we must treat it with the zero tolerance we treat racism or homophobia.”