The Government’s controversial Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) may well “implicate law abiding citizens”, including those who criticise same-sex marriage, a Daily Mail columnist has cautioned.
Andrew Pierce also said he has been told by MPs that religious education teachers who teach that gay marriage is wrong may face prosecution.
Home Secretary Theresa May’s counter-extremism Bill is expected to be put before Parliament before the end of the year.
Pierce commented on the Government’s definition of extremism, which is “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”.
He said: “It all sounds fine on paper” but warned that in the process Theresa May could “implicate law abiding citizens.
“It’s only a matter of time before anyone who has the temerity to criticise same-sex marriage, for instance, will be accused of a hate crime under the EDOs.”
Not the right way
Pierce continued: “Some Tory MPs have told me that religious education teachers who tell pupils that gay marriage is wrong risk being prosecuted under the new orders in the same way as hate preachers.
He said this is why The Christian Institute is “launching a campaign in defence of free speech and against the new powers being sought by May.”
He quoted the Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Simon Calvert, who said: “Quashing the rights of dissenters who want to peacefully express views, even those considered old-fashioned, is not the right way.”
Amid widespread criticism of the proposed counter-extremism Bill, a new campaign called Defend Free Speech has been launched by The Christian Institute and the National Secular Society to oppose controversial EDOs.
Its website, defendfreespeech.org.uk, gives up-to-date information about the campaign, and helps people to contact their MP about the proposals.