Protestors rally outside Scottish Parliament against new hate crime law that jeopardizes free speech

On Monday, the Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into effect in Scotland, sparking outcry among citizens who believe the law to be a violation of free speech rights.

Protestors gathered outside the Scottish Parliament, brandishing signs with messages like "a man can't become a woman. Simple," and "we hate the Hate Crime laws," as reported by the Daily Mail. Some demonstrators chose to symbolize the censorship of the new law by placing tape over their mouths.

"The reason I’m here is the Scottish Enlightenment – the church and state should have no power over what people are allowed to say," said Mark Leslie, an artist who protested the implementation of the new law, per PA News.

The act makes it a crime for a person to be "stirring up hatred" relating to things such as age, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and others. The maximum penalty a person could face for such a violation is a jail sentence of seven years.

Scottish Minister Siobhian Brown announced on Monday that, under the new act, individuals who misgender someone online “could be investigated.” This notably sparked outcry from author JK Rowling, who is known for her vocal criticism of transgender ideology. Rowling denounced the measure in a thread on social media platform X.

“The re-definition of 'woman' to include every man who declares himself one has already had serious consequences for women's and girls' rights and safety in Scotland, with the strongest impact felt, as ever, by the most vulnerable, including female prisoners and rape survivors,” Rowling said in a post on X.

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