Criminal law to be changed to protect marriage beliefs

The Government is intending to amend the criminal law, making clear that critics of gay marriage won’t be committing a crime.

The Public Order Act will be reformed so that it won’t be a hate crime to say same-sex marriage is wrong.

The Government amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was debated in committee stage in the House of Lords on Monday.


Equalities spokesperson Baroness Stowell of Beeston said the Public Order Act would be updated as there is already a similar provision for “discussions about sexual conduct or practices”.

Section 29JA of the Act would be changed to include: “any discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”.

Baroness Stowell said the amendment “refers to the content of what is said, not the manner in which it is said”.


But Lord Dear, who is leading the campaign for traditional marriage in the House of Lords got Baroness Stowell to admit the Public Order Act only applies to criminal rather than civil law.

A source told The Daily Mail: “It addresses the concern that there will be a chilling effect so that people, such as those of faith, will be afraid to express their views in public.”

The Committee stage of the Bill continues for a third day on Monday.

Many concerns have been raised by Peers about the need for civil liberty protections in the legislation.