The breadth of opposition to Home Secretary Theresa May’s anti-extremist measures is growing.
The Spectator magazine and homosexual rights campaigner Peter Tatchell followed The Christian Institute in attacking the proposals.
The measures are to be included in the Conservative Party manifesto ahead of next year’s General Election.
Referring to the Home Secretary’s proposed ‘Extremist Disruption Orders’, The Spectator said that they go “against our tradition of free speech, and set a dangerous precedent”.
The magazine highlighted fears that the Home Secretary’s proposals, although designed to counter terrorism, would result in curtailing free speech amongst peaceful groups.
“The clear inference of her words is that people will soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law if they promulgate ideas which, though expressed in a peaceful fashion, are deemed to be extreme or inspire others to violence.
“This raises the clear risk that the right of free speech will apply only insofar as it is not deemed by an official to be appealing to some lurking hothead.”
The magazine warned that the proposals could target “those advocating all manner of views which lie beyond mainstream public opinion.”
It drew attention to Labour’s ‘hate crime’ laws, which have “already been used to pursue Christian street preachers” who disagree with homosexual practice.
“Rather than repeal such laws”, The Spectator observed, “Mrs May seems to want to extend them”.
It encouraged May to set about “repealing, rather than augmenting, Labour’s laws abridging freedom of speech”.
Homosexual rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tweeted criticism of the proposals, describing them as “too harsh, vague & open to abuse”.
— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) October 3, 2014
Speaking last week, the Director of The Christian Institute, Colin Hart, said that the anti-extremist measures look like a “gagging order”.
He said: “The Home Secretary’s proposals fly in the face of her very public espousal of ‘British values’. Freedom of expression is an essential freedom for any democratic society.”
Tory MP Dominic Raab joined former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve in expressing similar concerns.
Raab said: “Those engaged in passionate debates – such as Christians objecting to gay marriage – could find themselves slapped down.”