The Truth

Government Forced to Accept Free Speech Amendment to "Homophobic Hatred" Law (to Prevent Prison Staff Strikes) .........


by Stewart Cowan, 10/5/08
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In a country where people have been getting into trouble with the police simply for stating their point of view about homosexuality, it was imperative to safeguard free speech under the Government's proposed "homophobic hatred" law, part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

The Government has very reluctantly backed down and allowed a free speech protection to be written into its bill which became law two days ago. The decision came after the Government was defeated for a second time in the House of Lords, where peers voted 178 to 164 in favour of the protection.

Labour and the Liberal Democrat front bench peers were against Lord Waddington's clear and simple amendment that would help the police to fully comprehend what does not constitute a criminal offence.

The amendment says, "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 Government insisted that the amendment was not necessary as the wording of the Bill was clear enough, but this simply was not true.

I have myself been threatened with police involvement for stating my opinion on homosexuality.

Last year a potential customer emailed me regarding buying rainbow flags for a 'gay pride' parade (my business is flags). I explained that I did not stock these and gave my reasons. I said more than he liked as he told me that after getting advice he would be contacting the police to have what I had written in my email recorded as a homophobic incident.

I never heard any more about it, but others have been persecuted for their beliefs, like pensioners Mr and Mrs Roberts from Lancashire who simply complained about their local council's promotion of homosexual rights and requested that their Christian literature was also taken by the council.

Two police officers questioned them in their home for eighty minutes and told them they were 'walking on eggshells.'

This is a good description of how a lot of people feel when stating their views in the UK today.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Waddington said: "My understanding is that the Government do not wish to see discussion stifled and people harassed, bullied, interrogated and sometimes arrested for expressing their views. However, if that is so, it really is time that they did something about it."

He added, "When people are harassed, interrogated and arrested as a result of wrongful action by the police as they follow up what is often a malevolent complaint-such as the one against Mr Hurst, who was handing out leaflets inviting people to his church's Easter service-it is little comfort to know that it is very unlikely that a conviction would have followed."

Senior judge and 'gay rights' sympathiser, Dame Butler-Sloss, agreed that free speech needed protecting.

As the Christian Institute reports,

"After the [Lords] vote the Bill 'ping-ponged' back to the Commons. There the Government reluctantly decided to accept the Waddington amendment. Only the Liberal Democrat front bench objected, forcing a vote on the matter. In the end the amendment was accepted by 324 votes to 46 as the Government joined the Conservatives to keep the amendment. The Government did this in order to stop the Bill continuing to ping-pong between houses."

"The concessions came as the government faced a possible strike by prison staff unless it got the bill, which will ban them from taking part in industrial action, through parliament by today [8th]."

Despite the circumstances, this was a rare fly in the ointment for the homosexual lobby. While several prominent homosexuals were supportive of the amendment, Ben Summerskill and Stonewall were predictably unimpressed. Their website states, "some people of extreme views could attempt to avoid prosecution by citing a religious defence".

But then what Mr Summerskill considers to be an 'extreme view' is likely to be a view held by most ordinary folks with no axe to grind. He previously criticised the "shocking" conduct of the Metropolitan Police for failing to stop a Christian demonstration outside Parliament.

Some people want to stop criticism of their lifestyle or beliefs stone dead. It is up to lovers of truth and free speech to be vigilant and make sure this is never allowed to happen.

We must be grateful to those peers who backed Lord Waddington's free speech amendment because our elected 'representatives' tend to favour legislation that seeks to frighten and silence us.