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Statement on Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill from SYP Board

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SYP is a human-rights based organisation. Our values of diversity and inclusion are at the heart of who we are.

Many young people, including many MSYPs, were deeply concerned with some amendments that have been introduced this week to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, that appeared to exempt trans people from the measures in the Bill that are intended to protect people from hate speech.

Young people in Scotland have told us that they believe that all groups should be offered equal protection within this Bill. During our recent consultation for our 2021-26 From Scotland’s Young People manifesto, 82% of respondents agreed that:

‘Hate crime law should be improved to ensure all groups at risk are equally and consistently protected.’

As a result, yesterday (28th January) on behalf of young people we wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to urge him to withdraw the Government amendment that we were concerned about. We are also now considering what other actions we can take to ensure that politicians in Holyrood understand what young people think about this issue, to ensure that the trans community is afforded the same level of protection as all other groups in society.

Fundamentally, we believe that trans rights are human rights.

Ends

Notes

The letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice is copied below.

2012- 2026, From Scotland’s Young People is available here.

For more information, please contact Hello@syp.org.uk

Email to Cabinet Secretary for Justice, 28th January 2021

Dear Cabinet Secretary for Justice,

We are writing to you within our capacity as Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) and Convener of SYP’s Justice Committee, to raise our concern around your recently proposed “protection of freedom of expression” amendment to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.

The amendment in question states that “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”. This amendment singles out transgender issues specifically in a way that no other protected characteristics have been.

Young people in Scotland believe that all groups should be offered equal protection within this Bill. During consultation for our 2021-26 From Scotland’s Young People manifesto, 82% of respondents agreed that:

          ‘Hate crime law should be improved to ensure all groups at risk are equally and consistently protected.’

Under the Equality Act 2010, trans people of any age are protected under the “gender reassignment” characteristic. This amendment does not offer this group the protection they deserve or put them on an equal footing with other protective characteristic groups.

SYP is therefore disappointed to see this amendment submitted on behalf of the Scottish Government. We call on you to uphold the rights of Scotland’s transgender community and offer them the protection they deserve by withdrawing this amendment.

We also encourage you to engage with trans young people from across Scotland to ensure that their voices and lived experience are reflected within this Bill’s provisions.

Young people from across the country are clear on where they stand on this issue. We hope that your actions will reflect this.

Yours faithfully,

Josh Kennedy MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament               

Jack Bell MSYP, Convener of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Justice Committee

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