Campaigners against proposed smacking ban to protest outside Parliament

Opponents of a bid to ban smacking in Scotland are to stage a protest outside Holyrood, as the committee considering the bill holds its final evidence session.

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities Committee will hear from Green MSP John Finnnie, who has brought forward the member’s bill, as well as children’s minister Maree Todd.

Mr Finnie has introduced the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Bill, which if passed, would remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment on children.

But the campaign group Be Reasonable, which is opposed to the move, described the proposed legislation as “chilling”.

Campaigners will hand out leaflets outside the Scottish Parliament as the committee meets.

Be Reasonable spokesman Simon Calvert insisted that “the public and parents are massively against this latest intrusion into family life by those who want to impose their own parenting preferences on every home in Scotland”.

He said 89% of those who responded to a call for evidence from the committee were against the Bill being passed.

Mr Calvert said: “The evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of Scots do not back this ban. They need to communicate this to their MSPs before it’s too late.

“There are 614,000 families with dependent children in Scotland and many of these parents face the threat of being criminalised if this Bill goes through and they are found to have given their child a light smack. That’s chilling.”

Critics of the proposals fear a ban on smacking could lead to  parents being prosecuted for disciplining their children.

However, Police Scotland chief superintendent John McKenzie has already told the committee these was no evidence of a rise in prosecutions following legislation being brought in across other countries.

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