Taking the rot out of a rotten bill
According to the BBC, campaigners against the proposed incitement to religious hatred bill have proposed a compromise which they believe will protect freedom of expression. Having accepted that the government is likely to force the bill through no matter what, Rowan Atkinson, Lord Carey, and a cross-party group of peers have proposed the following safeguards:
– Nobody can be found guilty of new religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred
– Only threatening words should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting
– There should be a specific part of the bill saying the law should not restrict discussion, criticism of expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.
Lib Dem peer Lord Lester said,
The purpose of these amendments is to take the rot out of a rotten bill […] We think it would be a mistake to wreck the bill and then give the government the excuse that the unelected upper house was somehow thwarted the will of the elected representatives.