Free speech clause inserted into “gay hate” law

It is not often that we have cause to celebrate alongside the zombie-worshipping bigots of the Christian Institute, but a victory for free speech is a victory for free speech.

Last night the Lords voted to keep the so-called Free Speech Amendment in the “homophobic hatred” section of the new Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. The clause states:

In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.

The unamended law to outlaw “gay hate speech” was supported by a government whip and the Liberal Democrats. Many gay commentators including Johann Hari, Matthew Parris and Peter Tatchell, argued strongly against it in favour of free speech.

Of course, the Christian Institute – always selective about what speech it believes should be free, and what should be outlawed – is cock-a-hoop because the amendment means that they can continue to harangue gay people about how sinful they are.

Whatever turns you on.

9 Responses to “Free speech clause inserted into “gay hate” law”

  1. Stuart W says:

    Er, Johann Hari and Peter Tatchell have both defended anti-gay free speech many times. Look in Hari’s ‘Gay Issues’ section of the archive in his website, for example.

    Bring it on, Christian In-dispute! Nobody is listening besides the parodists, and the next time somebody wants to say something ‘blasphemous’ I trust you will be supporting their right to.

  2. Monitor says:

    Yes, that’s what I was trying to say. I will amend that sentence to make it clearer.

  3. Stuart W says:

    Its okay, I’ve just realized I read it wrong first time around, lol.

  4. marc draco says:

    Where does free speech end in this case though? Haranguing anyone about their sexuality is no different than doing it about the colour of their skin isn’t it? Or did I miss something? I’m pretty tired so I might have.

  5. GrumpyJoe says:

    Marc Draco,

    you are missing something – race/colour is something somebody cannot change, religion is. Religion can be understood, thought through and changed or discarded if required, race/colour cannot. Similarly, if a politician is gay, I would not harangue them for that, but I could shout at them for being Tory, that is a choice.

  6. Stuart H. says:

    Marc – Parris sums up his case well in his Times column a week or two back – basically that 10-20 years back religious nutters badmouthing gays was a different matter as the power difference was greater, but these days most gays could rip up most evangelicals in local print or on air and the public would be with them.
    Still wonder about some small communities – though I did manage to suggest in my local paper that a notoriously homophobic politician should only be allowed out wearing sackcloth and ringing a bell and no-one has burned my house down (yet!).

  7. Eunomiac says:

    Just weighing in as a gay guy who agrees with this victory for free speech. I’m against all hate speech laws, ESPECIALLY those that “protect” gays. I’d rather rise above persecution than acknowledge my vulnerability to it, thank you very much.

  8. Nothing wrong with talking of a person’s colour, Marc. The religionists only want to analyse, preach. They talk about “the discussion or criticism”. That’s fine. And the same should go for race. There’s a difference between saying (a) “All wogs out” and (b) “there are genetic differences among races that show that one is higher in this or that”; and between saying (a) “Kill all fucking poofs” and (b) “Homosexuality is clearly frowned upon in the Bible/Koran and is not compatible with God’s plan for mankind”). As a fully paid-up ageing poof I say bring on free speech. We can take on the bigots. We always could, of course, but, as Stuart H points out, things are easier now, because we’re more likely to get a platform, or that letter in the paper, or our gay group’s media release noticed by the news editor of the Much Fondling on the Grope Bugle and Echo. That, of course, raises the question, Should we always have gone for the free-speech option, even when we were being more spat at and people’s opinions were more easily turned against us and when we had fewer champions, and, of our champtions, fewer who were willing to speak out in public? Not an easy one.

  9. marc draco says:

    Thanks all. I think I read that a bit clearer now. I always think of religion as a choice and something to be open to critique. Sexuality and skin colour are set (probably) at conception and you’re stuck with them.

    FWIW, I like that gay people can be open now, because I can (and do) openly have gay mates without having people talk behind my back as if I’m somehow odd. [Which I probably am, truth be told. LOL.)