A 'climate of heightened sensitivity' could severely restrict freedom of speech, the Scottish Church has said
Expressing Catholic beliefs on sexuality could become a hate crime, a Catholic spokesman in Scotland has warned.
“In a climate of heightened sensitivity there is a very real danger that expressing or even holding individual or collective opinions or beliefs will become a hate crime,” said Catholic Parliamentary Office Director Anthony Horan last week.
“We must guard against this and ensure freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion are protected.
“Some people might suggest that expressing the Catholic Church’s position on marriage or human sexuality could be an attempt to stir up hatred.
“This would obviously be wrong, but without room for robust debate and exchange of views we risk becoming an intolerant, illiberal society.”
Mr Horan was speaking in the context of the Scottish Government carrying out a consultation exercise on hate crime.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We agree that the law as it stands is already robust, but we want to ensure that all such offences are properly prosecuted which is why we are currently analysing the responses and will consider them in shaping our Hate Crime Bill.
“All contributions to the consultation will be fully considered before decisions are taken.”
The Catholic Church itself has increasingly become the victim of hate crimes in recent months. Last month a man was jailed for 10 months for spitting on a Catholic priest as an Orange march passed by his church.