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Scotland To Set Up New Police Unit To Tackle “Hate” and “Misgendering,” Ignites Free Speech Concerns

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On the brink of implementing Humza Yousaf’s highly contentious legislation early next year, a specialized hate crime unit has been announced by Police Scotland. With the unit scheduled to be operational by November, a comprehensive training of about 16,400 law enforcement officers will follow in December.

This is all in anticipation of the Hate Crime and Public Order Act, expected to be ratified early in 2024. This Act expands upon the existing law, offering a broader protective net for “vulnerable” groups and introduces the notion of “stirring up hatred.”

However, some critics and free speech advocates have raised concerns that the Act, which holds potential to elevate sentencing if prejudice is based on factors such as age, race, disability, religion, transgender identity or variations in sex characteristics, may invigorate the increasingly toxic culture wars surrounding gender issues. It is posited that the law may sidetrack police resources from tackling violent conduct to address “harmful” words.

The thought of free speech being stifled by the new laws is particularly horrifying for some, with warnings that women’s rights advocates may find themselves entangled in allegations of transphobia.

Critics argue that a significant portion of police time may now be geared towards a subjective concept of hate crime, such as “misgendering,” instead of dealing with tangible violent acts.

Helen Joyce, part of the human rights group Sex Matters, asserted her alarm at the creation of this specific hate crime unit. She voiced concern for those who stand for the rights of women and children, warning of a “chilling effect” on free speech, as reported by The Scottish Express.

Police Scotland remains tight-lipped about the size of the proposed unit plus the financial implications of the new laws – a cause for concern for many.

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