New briefing outlines free speech concerns over ‘gay hate’ offence
As an amendment is tabled in the House of Lords to introduce a free speech clause into the proposed ‘homophobic hatred’ offence, The Christian Institute publishes a new briefing on the planned law.
The Lords amendment is based on wording suggested jointly by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. It is identical to the wording of a cross-party Commons amendment which attracted the support of 169 MPs on 9 January.
The Lords amendment has been signed by the Bishop of Winchester, the Roman Catholic Labour Peer, Lord Clarke of Hampstead, and former Conservative Home Secretary, Lord Waddington.
Several prominent homosexuals, faith groups and other public figures have already spoken out against the proposed offence, warning of the ‘chilling’ effect such a law would undoubtedly have on open public discourse.
Homosexual journalist Matthew Parris has commented on the proposals in The Spectator: “Imagine we were (per impossibile) able to define incitement to homophobic hatred sufficiently tightly to make the law work. Should we? I would still argue that we should not.” (The Spectator, 8 December 2007).
Colin Hart, the Director of The Christian Institute, comments: “The introduction of a law against inciting homophobic hatred would have dangerous implications for free speech in this country. Christians are very concerned that their liberties are being eroded by the introduction of laws that restrict their freedom to express their beliefs openly.”
Further copies of the briefing are available from The Christian Institute’s website (http://www.christian.org.uk).