New hate crime laws proposed by the Scottish Government could lead to the bible being deemed” inflammatory” the Catholic Church has warned.

The Hate Crime and Public Order Bill would have an enabling power to add ‘sex’ to the Bill’s lists of characteristics covered in hate crime legislation.

It would cover hatred based on prejudice against disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

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It would also bring in new offences of stirring up hatred and possession of inflammatory material.

However, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has warned  it could see the Catholic Church stance on issues like sex and gender on the wrong side of the law and said there is the potential for “vexatious claims”.

Anthony Horan, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, said: “Whilst acknowledging that stirring up of hatred is morally wrong and supporting moves to discourage and condemn such behaviour the bishops have expressed concerns about the lack of clarity around definitions and a potentially low threshold for committing an offence, which they fear, could lead to a ‘deluge of vexatious claims’.
 “A new offence of possessing inflammatory material could even render material such as the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church...inflammatory.  The Catholic Church’s understanding of the human person, including the belief that sex and gender are not fluid and changeable, could fall foul of the new law. Allowing for respectful debate, means avoiding censorship and accepting the divergent views and multitude of arguments inhabiting society.”

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The Bishops criticised “cancel culture” and said any new law must be weighed against “fundamental freedoms”  and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Mr Horan added: “The bishops decry so-called ‘cancel culture’ in their submission, expressing deep concern at the ‘hunting down of those who disagree with prominent orthodoxies with the intention to expunge the non-compliant from public discourse and with callous disregard for their livelihoods’. They say that ‘no single section of society has dominion over acceptable and unacceptable speech or expression’ and urged the law to be proportionate and fair and allow for respectful debate and tolerance lest we become an ‘intolerant, illiberal society’.”

Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary, has said previously: "The Bill includes provisions on freedom of expression to provide further clarity that the prohibition on stirring up hatred will not unduly restrict people’s right to express their faith, or to criticise religious beliefs or practices or sexual practices."