Join us Donate

Date: 2 August 2023 

Contact: [email protected] | 07549 018112 

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) welcomes Scottish Government decision to formally oppose the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, better known as the ‘anti-boycott bill.’ 

Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK (PSC), says 

This decision by the Scottish Government is the latest blow to Michael Gove’s toxic anti-boycott bill. It follows fierce opposition from across the political spectrum when the bill was debated in the House of Commons in July. From trade unions, charities and climate campaigns to faith groups, human rights and solidarity organisations, a broad swathe of civil society has come together in united opposition to this proposal. It is now clear that a real fight is underway to ensure that this dangerous bill does not become law. 

The anti-boycott bill is a major attack on freedom of expression. Boycotting and divestment are legitimate, historically recognised tactics that have been the engine of great leaps forward for social and international justice, such as the ending of apartheid in South Africa. If passed, this law will have a chilling effect on all campaigns for social and political change, by trying to remove a key tool for peaceful activism.  

No less important is the foreign policy implication: this bill could codify in British law what can only be interpreted as an attempt to change British foreign policy by the back door and undermine decades of international consensus, giving Israel the green light to intensify its illegal settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights. This would be wrong at any time, but especially at this moment when the most right-wing government in Israel’s history is pushing forward an extreme agenda of land grabs for settlement expansion and perpetrating horrific violence against the Palestinian people. 

The anti-boycott bill threatens to damage local democracy and the devolution settlements, to erode civil liberties and freedom of expression, and undermine campaigns for social and climate justice. It will be opposed by all who believe that public bodies should not be forced by the government to invest money in companies responsible for violations of international law and human rights.  

In its published statement, the Scottish Government says: 

The UK Government’s approach to apartheid government in South Africa, refusing to condemn it when others were actively boycotting it, demonstrates the danger inherent in this restriction. We are rightly proud of those in Scotland who took a stand against apartheid. Under the provisions of this Bill, many of them would have been silenced. 



  • The anti-boycott bill aims to prevent public bodies from deciding how to spend, invest and trade ethically, in line with international law and human rights. 70 civil society organisations state that the bill will stifle a wide range of campaigns for justice, erode local democracy, and present a threat to freedom of expression. Signatories to the ‘Right to Boycott’ statement include Liberty, Unison, Unite the Union, University and College Union Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace UK, Muslim Association of Britain, Methodist Church in Britain, and Campaign Against Arms Trade. The full statement and list of signatories can be found at https://righttoboycott.org.uk