MPs to vote on free speech amendment to ‘gay hate’ law
On Wednesday 9 January MPs are expected to debate and vote on a cross-party amendment which protects free speech from a planned offence which outlaws inciting hatred based on sexual orientation.
The amendment is based on draft wording suggested by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church of England and Wales. The amendment reads: “Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion of, criticism of or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct related to that orientation.”
There have already been a number of high-profile incidents where police have over-zealously interviewed people because they disagreed with homosexual practice. The amendment has been signed by Jim Dobbin (Lab), Ann Widdecombe (Con), Alan Beith (LD), David Taylor (Lab), Philip Hollobone (Con), Colin Breed (LD), Edward Leigh (Con), Joe Benton (Lab), Chris Chope (Con), Stephen Crabb (Con), Peter Bone (Con), Philip Davies (Con), Geraldine Smith (Lab), Bob Spink (Con).
It is not only faith groups that are concerned about the chilling effect on free speech. The comedian, Rowan Atkinson, together with homosexuals Matthew Parris, Iain Dale, Peter Tatchell and Christopher Biggins have all expressed opposition to the proposed law.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said today: “Tolerance is a two-way street and disagreement is not the same thing as hatred. People should be allowed to express their beliefs on sexual ethics without fear of police interference. This amendment makes that clear and I very much hope it succeeds.”