“We believe provision must therefore be made in the bill for discussion and criticism of views on transgender identity without fear of criminal sanctions. A right to claim that binary sex does not exist or is fluid must be matched with a right to disagree with that opinion; and protection from prosecution for holding it,” the coalition said.
Catholics in Scotland have been commenting publicly on the bill since its introduction. In the original 12-week consultation period after the bill’s introduction, members of the public made nearly 2,000 submissions to the Scottish Parliament.
In a statement issued July 29, 2020, the Catholic bishops of Scotland argued that the bill could lead to censorship of Catholic teaching.
The Scottish bishops stated that the bill “creates an offense of possessing inflammatory material which, if taken with the low threshold contained therein, could render material such as the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other texts such as Bishops’ Conference of Scotland submissions to government consultations, as being inflammatory under the new provision.”
Yousaf has since agreed to remove the provision criminalizing the possession of “inflammatory material,” which critics had warned could even have criminalized bookstores or libraries containing books deemed “inflammatory.”
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The bishops also noted that pronouncements of Catholic teaching on sex and gender “might be perceived by others as an abuse of their own, personal worldview and likely to stir up hatred.”
”The Parliament now has approximately four weeks to complete the passage of the bill. This is extraordinarily tight and risks inadequate and ill-thought through legislation being passed,” the coalition noted.
“No workable solutions to issues of freedom of expression have so far been suggested. If no such solutions can be found we hope the Scottish Government will now consider withdrawing the stirring up hatred offences in Part 2 of the bill to allow more detailed consideration and discussion and to ensure freedom of expression provisions, which enshrine free and open debate, are afforded the scrutiny they require.”