Greens welcome SNP decision to delay sectarianism bill

For immediate release 23 June 2011

The announcement by the First Minister that the sectarianism bill will now be given due Parliamentary consideration was welcomed today by the Green MSPs, and the party will seek to contribute constructively to this debate and improve the flawed first draft of the legislation. The move by Alex Salmond came less than three hours after SNP Ministers brought a vote to force the legislation through by next Thursday.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"The First Minister has, in the nick of time, listened to other parties and accepted that his sectarianism proposals do need proper scrutiny. This is a time to welcome a common-sense change of heart, not to crow over a u-turn. The original schedule was unjustifiable, and the new plans are much more reasonable. Just half an hour before the First Minister's announcement, SNP backbenchers were in the Chamber saying that any delay would be a disaster, but I'm sure the discomfort will soon pass.

"Now it's time for Parliament to take evidence from the experts and consider ways in which this Bill can be improved for the long term. It seems extraordinary that there is no free speech defence, no clear definition of sectarianism, and no real justification for the different consideration being given to one set of hate crimes over another."