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Scottish campaign could fall foul of hate crime laws

West Europe

Scottish campaign could fall foul of hate crime laws

Barnabas Fund makes complaint to police after Scottish posters call out Christians as “bigots”

An anti-hate campaign launched by the Scottish government and police is itself guilty of religious prejudice, according to persecuted church relief charity, Barnabas Fund.

“At Barnabas Fund we are used to supporting Christians who face prejudice and discrimination but we have never before felt it necessary to make a formal complaint of this kind in the UK. This is no less than state-sponsored prejudice against Christians which we are more used to seeing in a countries where Christians are marginalised and persecuted,” said Hendrik Storm, Chief Executive Officer of the charity.

Barnabas Fund said that the campaign may fall foul of international law. In a complaint to the police, the charity said that the posters represented a serious threat to religious tolerance because they were state sponsored by the government and the police. The posters could be in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the UK is a legally bound signatory of.

According to the complaint, the language of the posters strongly implied that all religious people are bigots. Scottish Police Professional Standards is now investigating complaints about the poster and has 56 days to respond.

Last year the Scottish government commissioned Lord Bracadale to write a report on hate crime law in Scotland. His report published in May 2018 recommended the creation of a new offence of conduct that is likely to result in stirring up hatred towards people with a “protected characteristic” – including religion.

Barnabas Fund said it was deeply disturbing that only four months after the Bracadale report the Scottish government had issued posters falling foul of its recommendations. If the posters were published in England or Wales they could already constitute a criminal offence.

Hendrik Storm called on Christians to sign the Barnabas Fund petition Our Religious Freedom. The petition now has over 75,000 signatures demonstrating widespread concern about the future of religious liberty.