Skip to comments.England: Religious hate bill goes to vote
Posted on 01/30/2006 9:04:44 PM PST by freedom44
Thousands of demonstrators are expected outside Parliament as MPs vote on plans to ban incitement to religious hatred.
Ministers want religious groups to have the same protection from hate crimes as racial groups.
The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill has undergone substantial changes in the Lords but the government hopes to push through a compromise amendment.
Critics claim the bill is drawn too widely and could stop free speech and unfairly target artists.
Last year peers voted by a majority of 149 in favour of a cross-bench move to implement freedom of speech safeguards.
These include making sure nobody is found guilty of religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred.
They say only "threatening words" should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting.
A coalition of politicians, writers and artists is trying to persuade ministers to accept the changes made by peers.
At a press conference on Monday, comedian Rowan Atkinson, who has been a prominent critic of the bill, said: "No one deserves a right to freedom from criticism."
Government attempts to include an offence of being "reckless" about stirring up hatred could affect performers, he added.
These freedoms to speak and to argue, to criticise and indeed to ridicule, once lost, are very rarely got back
Evan Harris MP
Q&A: Religious hatred law
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are opposed to the bill, as are some Labour backbenchers.
Labour backbencher Bob Marshall-Andrews said the legislation was "going to have a chilling effect on not just religion but on the whole spectrum of freedom of speech".
He said he did not know how many of his party colleagues would vote against the government but that many would "make their minds up very, very late".
Liberal Democrat human rights spokesman Evan Harris said Tuesday's vote on the bill would be parliament's last chance to protect free speech.
'Freedom to ridicule'
"These freedoms to speak and to argue, to criticise and indeed to ridicule, once lost, are very rarely got back.
Shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve said his party would do "everything it can to work with others in parliament to remove the worst parts of the governments' proposals".
Under the proposed law the offence of inciting racial hatred would carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
Sikhs and Jews already have full protection from incitement because the courts regard them as distinct races.
But Christians, Muslims and others are not afforded the same protection because they do not constitute a single ethnic block.
There is something unsettling about watching the once great England put a gun to it's own head. They need to declare Islam a dangerous unreligeous ideology incompatable with the Commonwealth, but no, they choose suicide. Prisoners of their own misguided notions to the end.
Clear and present danger or incitement should be the standard. Anything less makes claims of supporting freedom of expression meaningless.
Should have been called the Islamofascist Protection Bill. Christians will continue to be ridiculed as before without penalty in UK academe and popular culture, but the first time someone speaks out against the moon-god death cultists, it's off to the Old Bailey wit' ya. Undoubtedly the Danish newspaper editorial cartoons would be prosecutable under this legislation. Whither freedom in Britain.
No kidding. I won't hold my breath waiting for some radical Imam to get prosecuted under this law.
Maybe a reality-sequel called "Big Brother: The Early Years" could be based entirely on domestic news and policy from the UK.
ROFL this is for anglo-celto-british brits! I assume it bans most of the BNP platform from public discourse.
I agree 100% History will view this as the beginning of the end. If this passes, then England will be added to my no-travel list.
England is already on my no-travel list. And therein lie my ancestors.
political correctness is going to be the death of civilized western society.
Why should self preservation be called hate crime?
The Brits apparently want to outlaw cartoons that might incite riots by ridiculing radical Islamism. Their attempt to surrender and go the dhimmi way won't solve the problem, though.
It is a good thing that the Jutland News is printed in Denmark. If they were English, they would soon be sshut down by the PC state.
Who speaks of liberty while the human mind is in chains? ~Francis Wright
Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves.
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine
These kind of laws are racist in the extreme. To say that only people who have a certain religion must be protected form freedom of the press and freedom of expresion is to say that they must be protected from the majority. This is to imply that they are a protected people, and more worthy of support ( and freedom) than the majority.
This kind of legislation is great to protect Pandas and Siberian Tigers, but not thoughts and ideas.
"Clear and present danger or incitement should be the standard."
Of course, but they've already got Muslims openly calling for the murder of "infidels" and nothing is done to them, or certainly nothing was being done before 9/11. So why are they even bothering with this nonsense?
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