Catholics, evangelicals unite on free speech fears under Scottish hate bill relating to transgender issue
A coalition of Roman Catholics and evangelicals have united to urge the Scottish Government to drop part of its controversial hate crime bill as it moves closer to becoming law, particularly that in the proposed law relating to criticism of "transgender ideology."
Representatives from Scotland's Catholic Parliamentary Office, the Free Church of Scotland, and Evangelical Alliance Scotland wrote to Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.
Their call followed the Scottish government's decision to retract an amendment on transgender hate crimes, The Christian Institute in the UK reported.
The amendment would have protected the right to criticize radical gender ideology without fear of prosecution, but the governing Scottish National Party changes its mind after the move drew criticism from LGBT activists.
They are not alone in their fears as Scottish lawyers, police, actors and even the BBC have all expressed concern over the Bill, Christian Today reported.
The Scottish Government has so far resisted pressure to introduce a safeguard to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.
The church groups Church called for the 'stirring up' offence to be removed from the proposed law.
They warned that the offence will effectively censor any criticism of transgender ideology.
'WRESTLING WITH IDEAS'
"Such free discussion and criticism of views is vital as society wrestles with these ideas," they said.
In their letter, the signatories expressed concern that a generic "catch all" free speech statement would water down protections, leaving uncertainty for "prosecutors, courts and most importantly the general public".
They highlighted the approach taken to the issues of sexual orientation and transgender identity and said that in both areas, there was a need to distinguish between "vicious, or malevolent attacks on the person on one hand, and disagreement or dispute with an ideological position on the other."
On same-sex marriage, they noted, "When marriage between parties of the same sex was introduced in Scotland assurance was given that no religious body would be forced to conduct them, implicit in that assurance was protection for those who expressed doctrinal disagreement with such marriages."
The petitioners also said that radical gender ideology has been the subject of "extensive and emotional public discussion" in recent years, and explained that a freedom of speech clause relating specifically to transgenderism is "vital as society wrestles with these ideas."
They said: "While we acknowledge the difficulties and struggles experienced by those with Gender Dysphoria and are acutely aware of the sensitivities involved from our own pastoral care settings, we cannot accept that any position or opinion at variance with the proposition that sex (or gender) is fluid and changeable should not be heard."
CRITICISM ON TRANSGENDER IDEOLOGY
The controversy on the right to offer criticism on transgender ideology has pulsed in one of Scotland's most famous residents, J.K. Rowling the author of the Harry Potter series of books and movies.
On June 10 last year she wrote a newspaper opinion piece explaining her views and criticism, including death threats that followed.
"For people who don't know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who'd lost her job for what were deemed 'transphobic' tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn't."
Rowling says people have asked her why sho has taken her stance.
"Firstly, I have a charitable trust that focuses on alleviating social deprivation in Scotland, with a particular emphasis on women and children. Among other things, my trust supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
"I also fund medical research into MS, a disease that behaves very differently in men and women.
"It's been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it's pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.
"The second reason is that I'm an ex-teacher and the founder of a children's charity, which gives me an interest in both education and safeguarding. Like many others, I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on both.
"The third is that, as a much-banned author, I'm interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump."
ABC News in Australia reported on Sept. 30 that that some people have accused JK Rowling of transphobia, while others have commended her "bravery" for discussing an issue they say is rooted in misogyny.
"One thing's clear: what she's said has sparked controversy and caused some pain," ABC commented .
The commentary said it is not clear though, is how much the furor will impact sales of her upcoming book, Troubled Blood, released that week under her nom de plume, Robert Galbraith.
"Publishing insiders say her brand as a talented and versatile writer — even under her now well-recognized pseudonym — may supersede her controversial opinions.
"But a growing number of LGBTQI people and their allies are turning their backs on an author who was thought to have theirs."