Lords to Debate Sexual Orientation Amendment
This just in from the LCF:
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill has introduced a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. It is modelled on the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 which makes it an offence to incite hatred against a person on religious grounds. However, the 2006 Act has a free speech clause within it, so it is both logical and reasonable that such a clause should also be in this new offence.
An amendment to protect free speech in the incitement to hatred on sexual orientation grounds is likely to be considered in the House of Lords today.
It is similar to the clause in the Racial and Religious Hatred Act and has the following wording:
"Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion of, criticism of or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct related to that orientation."
This is being put forward by Lord Clarke of Hampstead, Lord Waddington, The Lord Bishop of Winchester and Lord Stoddart of Swindon
Please pray that the Lords will debate and/or vote in favour of this free speech clause today as they did for a similar free speech clause in the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. Traditionally the Lords have been in favour of standing up for and preserving democratic values and free speech needs such protection.
This amendment is vital for the effective protection of free speech so that Christian Biblical views on marriage, sexuality and relationships can continue to be promoted in the public square.
To read the LCF briefing please click on the following link:
I do think this is an excellent amendment and worthy of passing. I can’t see how it could be wrong to say to someone that you might disagree with a behaviour they undertake. Neither should discussing sexuality and criticising some theories about sexual attraction development be illegal. Looking forward to hearing how the debate went.
For those who are really geeky, the BBC’s live stream from the Lords is here.
I expect you saw that the amendment after a full debate was withdrawn. It seems that Baroness Turner spotted its fatal flaw as going beyond the protection of freedom of speech when she pointed out “It contains a threat, particularly in the last sentence [â€œurging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct related to that orientationâ€â€”], which the Government should not be prepared to accept. The Bill as it stands should be supported because it attempts to deal with a genuine problem and give protection to those who deserve it. They do not deserve to be harassed and threatened.”
It seems she was saying that despite their declared aim of protecting free speech the supporters of the amendment were trying to get more, perhaps a “right” to “harass and threaten” for those who disapprove of homosexuality on ideological grounds (not for those who simply hate, of course).
You do raise the key point – where do we find the balance between protecting people against discrimination and also protecting religious conscience? On reflection, Baroness Turner was right, but I think that should just stir the movers of the amendment to produce another one that is more likely to be accepted.