Private conversations in the home about controversial issues such as same-sex marriage or transgender ideology could result in police intervention under new hate crime proposals for England and Wales.
In a 540-page consultation document, the Law Commission has laid out its plans to lower the threshold for hate crimes to be committed, including criminalising so-called “hate speech” even in private dwellings.
There is currently a ‘dwelling defence’ in law which protects conversations in the home from police intervention. The Law Commission, which advises the Government, believes this should change.
Similar plans have also been put forward in Scotland, where Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has come under fire for the extreme proposals.
Free speech campaigners have warned that the Scottish Government’s hate crime Bill leaves out the dwelling defence currently included in legislation in England and Wales, but Yousaf insists that ‘hateful speech’ in the home deserves to be criminalised.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Communications Ciarán Kelly commented: “The Scottish Government has drawn criticism from all corners for its sinister hate crime legislation, but the Law Commission for England and Wales appears to have paid no notice.
“Restricting free speech, and policing ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ views, sows division and resentment. The Government would do well to ignore this report.”
Harry Miller, a former police officer who founded Fair Cop, which opposes hate crime legislation, said: “If the private home law is adopted by Government, a comment over the dinner table about a huge range of people could lead to a prison sentence.”
He said human rights laws protecting privacy and family life would be “in the bin” adding that the proposed changes “will generate unfriendliness between different communities where there is none”.
Family law barrister Sarah Phillimore agreed: “I cannot believe the Government is being asked to consider surveillance of citizens in their own home. How will the evidence of such hate crimes be collected? Will we have an East German-style secret police like the Stasi?”
Yesterday, the Home Secretary Priti Patel told police chiefs: “As a general principle, while it is the job of the police to maintain order, we also look to you to uphold the law, which in this country has freedom at its heart.
“Freedom of speech is obviously a cornerstone of our democracy, and a right that we must all defend.”