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Scots could face criminal records for calling someone a 'grumpy old man' under SNP's plans for barmy new laws that make ageism a hate crime

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Calling someone ‘old’ could land Scots with a criminal record under new woke laws being introduced by the SNP to tackle ‘ageism’.

From next year, the definition of a hate crime will be extended to include threats or abusive language which focus on someone’s age.

Critics have warned that being rude or mocking someone for being old – or young – could result in a ‘hate crime’ conviction, punishable by a prison sentence or hefty fine.

The radical change is part of Humza Yousaf’s draconian Hate Crime and Public Order legislation, which he first mooted while he was Justice Secretary.

Under the Act passed during the Covid crisis in 2021, offences are considered aggravated if they involve prejudice on the basis of disability, sexual orientation, transgender identity or variation in sex characteristics.

It also created new offences of ‘stirring up hatred’ – which previously applied only to race – meaning Scots could break the rules in the privacy of their own home. Now, new guidance has disclosed that age is to become a protected characteristic from next year.

Under the change, the SNP’s own Mhairi Black could fall foul of the legislation. Last week she dismissed those who don’t agree with her views on transgender rights as ’50-year-old Karens’.

Last night, Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: ‘The notion that describing someone as a ‘grumpy old man’ or a ‘callow youth’ should be a hate crime is ludicrous.

‘How does the Scottish Government propose to police this? It still hasn’t activated the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act because Police Scotland doesn’t have the resources to investigate the deluge of complaints it will receive, with thousands of neighbours and ex-lovers accusing each other of hate crimes.

‘Not a single ‘hate crime’ set out in the Act has been prosecuted. Adding ‘ageism’ to the list is therefore just meaningless blather, typical of this zombie government.’

Scottish Conservative deputy justice spokesman Sharon Dowey said: ‘Despite its good intentions, this Bill is riddled with ridiculous legislation that risks turning innocent comments into hate crimes.’

According to Police Scotland, current laws cover any existing offence motivated by prejudice relating to race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. Inciting racial hatred and racially motivated harassment are stand-alone hate crime offences.

The legal definition of hate crime is ‘any crime understood by the victim or any other person as being motivated (wholly or partly) by malice or ill will’.

A document released by the Scottish Government last week stated: ‘In Scotland, hate crime law will be changing in 2024 to include age.’

It is the latest controversy surrounding the laws. In 2017, a public consultation asked whether homeless people, those who use food banks, refugees or – alarmingly – paedophiles, should also be protected by the legislation. Drug users and travellers were also suggested as possible protected groups.

The SNP’s hate crime legislation has raised concerns that it will stifle free speech and debate.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: ‘The new offence of stirring up hatred in relation to age requires behaviour that is threatening or abusive.  ‘Being rude to someone because of their age would clearly not meet this threshold.’





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