Hate speech is widely defined as follows (Wikipedia):-
“Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The law of some countries describes hate speech as speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display that incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group or individual on the basis of their membership of the group.”
On numerous occasions, the Orange Order is accused of ‘peddling hate’, but when those same accusers are asked to produce specific examples of where we ‘peddle’ hate, those examples are never produced. This is because we are clear within the Orange Order that we stand for full religious freedom – for people of any faith. Yes, we proudly celebrate the birth of Protestantism, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and the freedoms that this brought to Scotland. But this does not mean that we ‘hate’ other religions simply because we follow a different faith. By that definition, every religion could be said to ‘hate’ each other. Whilst they have differences, in most cases there is no hatred.
We do not go out and criticise Catholicism or other religions, neither do we ask anyone from other faiths to stay away from us or our halls or places of worship. In fact many of our halls in communities throughout Scotland are used by a whole range of different community groups, and even other faith groups. Our view is simple and straight forward – in order to tackle bigotry and hate, we should all be able to tolerate and accept each other.
However, these same basic courtesies are not given to the Orange Order. We are subjected to continuous hate speech directed at us for no other reason than our religious identity – just as the definition at the top of this article states.
Recently, a Roman Catholic Canon in Glasgow has put forward the idea that Orange parades should be banned from streets where there is a Roman Catholic Church. He has lobbied Glasgow City Council, and met with senior Police Scotland officers to make this case. Furthermore, groups supportive to his argument have threatened to come and protest any parade that goes near a Roman Catholic Church. Is this not prejudice? Is this not religious intolerance? Is this not bigotry? Is this not exactly what the second sentence of the above definition of hate speech says – “…speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display that incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group or individual on the basis of their membership of the group.” In calling for this ban, one religious group is calling for the limiting of rights over another. This is inciting prejudicial action on the basis of their membership of the group.
But the Police are going along with this. They are saying the risks are such that they cannot guarantee safety, so they are objecting to parades based on prejudicial opinion. One religion is now being favoured over another.
At the same time, the Police can guarantee the safety at football games where violent ultras are in attendance purely to cause disorder. They can provide officers and maintain safety for nationalist ‘Yes’ marches.
For the first time in decades, there is an ominous mood beginning to reassert itself again in Glasgow, fuelled by those who are calling for divisions, and supported by public institutions using flimsy excuses to support them.