Ban on incitement of homophobic hatred - almost...

Publish Date: 13/05/2008

With many people in Britain living in fear because of their sexual orientation a new offence of incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation has been passed which will help to tackle hatred and violence against lesbians and gay men.

In what is a major step towards legal equality, The House of Lords has passed new protections against incitement to homophobic hatred through The Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill which will now receive royal assent. The government has also insisted freedom of speech will be protected in the new law .

Ministers suffered a shock defeat on the issue last month, with the Lords voting to protect freedom of expression on matters of sexual orientation.

'Peers voted, by 178 to 164, to retain an amendment that will mean some people of extreme views attempt to avoid prosecution by citing a religious defence.' Said Stonewall chief Ben Somerskill who has spearheaded the campaign to amend current law .

'There were also distressing, and completely gratuitous, references to sodomy and young people during the debate. The tone and unpleasantness of the debates in recent weeks have been a very stark reminder of how many veteran opponents of equality there still are in both Houses of Parliament.' He added.

INCITEMENT TO HATRED - CRIMINAL JUSTICE & IMMIGRATION BILL

FACT
• The new offence will aim to prevent and tackle acts of serious hatred against individuals defined by reference to their sexual orientation.
• The new offence will tackle serious acts of hatred directed towards lesbian and gay people such as homophobic song lyrics, publications and websites.

FICTION
• The new protections will not outlaw jokes involving gay people, or any jokes that a gay person might deem offensive.
• The new protections will not cover playground insults.

For more info stonewall.org.uk