'Right-wing' Joe Rogan and Elon Musk's criticism of Scotland’s hate crime act is no surprise’, Humza Yousaf says

1 April 2024, 07:53

Humza Yousaf has hit back at criticism of Scotland's hate crime bill from Elon Musk and Joe Rogan
Humza Yousaf has hit back at criticism of Scotland's hate crime bill from Elon Musk and Joe Rogan. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Alan Zycinski

By Alan Zycinski

Scotland's First Minister's accused Joe Rogan and Elon Musk of being "right wing actors" and has told LBC he's not surprised they're criticising his government's new hate crime legislation.

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The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act came into force overnight having been passed by MSPs in 2021, consolidating existing legislation and creating a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected characteristics like age, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

But the legislation has led to fears about a potential chilling of free speech, with the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) raising concerns about it being weaponised for political purposes.

ASPS warned vexatious complaints could be made against people based on their views by political opponents, after Police Scotland said every report would be investigated.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk suggested the laws were misguided as he shared a post on X which claimed comedians would be targeted, writing: "An example of why it is so important to preserve free speech".

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And US podcast host Joe Rogan said during a recent episode: "You see that wild s*** in Scotland where they are targeting comedians with hate crime laws?... Jesus Christ Scotland, you have one of the biggest comedy festivals on earth... this is just ridiculous.

"Every generation either goes too far to the left or too far to the right - so these f****** have decided to target people and put them in jail."

Police Scotland have since said they’re not going to be targeting comedians or playwrights.

When asked by LBC how he would respond to Elon Musk and Joe Rogan’s comments, Humza Yousaf said: "They are right-wing actors of course and I think it's very clear, from particularly someone like Joe Rogan, that there's never going to be sympathy for the fact we are bringing in legislation that is clamping down on hatred.

Scotland targeting Comedians for Hate Crime Laws.

"So I'm not surprised by his criticisms necessarily. What I would say is the threshold of criminality in terms of the new offences is very, very high indeed. Your behaviour has to be threatening or abusive and intended to stir up hatred.

"And I've asked this question of many people who've opposed the act: 'Can they give me an example of behaviour that is threatening or abusive and intends to stir up hatred that they don't think should be prosecuted?' And no answer comes.

"So the thresholds are very high, freedom of expression protections are embedded within the bill and of course police have clarified they're not going to be targeting comedians or playwrights as has been suggested by some who spread disinformation.

"I'm very confident we've got a robust piece of legislation that will protect people against the riding tide of hatred we see right across the world."