Free speech amendment to ‘gay hate’ law tabled in Lords

An amendment to safeguard free speech from the proposed ‘incitement to homophobic hatred’ offence has been put forward in the House of Lords.

The free speech 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.

The wording of the proposed protection is identical to the amendment tabled in the Commons by a cross-party group of MPs. Though it was defeated, the amendment attracted the support of 169 MPs from across the House.

The Government was urged to introduce a safeguard of this kind in a joint statement from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. The amendment follows the wording of their suggestion very closely.

Lord Waddington told the Lords during the Second Reading debate on the Bill that the proposed incitement offence “…cries out for amendment to protect the right to free speech.”

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