Urgent: New Threat to Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech
3rd October 2007
Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill
Homosexual rights activists are calling upon the government to extend existing racial hatred law to cover ‘homophobic’ incidents. Stonewall, the homosexual rights lobby group, have been encouraging their supporters to write to their MPs asking them to support an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which receives its second reading on Monday 8th October. The amendment would be aimed at tackling words and behaviour which ‘stir up hate against gay people’. The Bill does not currently contain such a provision.
If such an amendment is put forward it is likely to be in the form of the existing “incitement against racial hatred” law. The type of actions targeted would not only be violently homophobic words, but would no doubt cover any criticism of practising homosexuality, homosexual acts and lifestyles. We faced a very similar battle with the religious hatred law, which was eventually amended to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That amended law came into force this Monday, 1st October 2007.
The proposed amendment in this case would constitute another serious attack on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We already have ample examples of how those who speak about biblical teaching on sexuality are maligned, threatened and intimidated in an attempt to keep them silent about their views. These are just a few examples of this lack of tolerance of Christian views on sexuality:
Edinburgh University CU was banned from running a course on sexual purity on University premises.
Harry Hammond, a pensioner and street preacher, was convicted of a public order offence for carrying a sign saying “stop immorality, stop homosexuality”.
Stephen Green was arrested at Cardiff’s Mardi Gras for distributing leaflets quoting the bible passages on homosexual activity.
Glasgow firemen faced discipline for refusing to man an information stall at a gay pride event.
Family values campaigner, Lynette Burrows, was telephoned by police saying they were investigating a ‘homophobic incident’ after she said on radio that homosexual men may not be suitable for raising children.
The Bishop of Chester was investigated by the Cheshire constabulary after he told his local newspaper of research showing that some homosexuals re-orientated to heterosexuality.
A Member of the Scottish Parliament asked Strathclyde Police to investigate the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow after he said in a sermon that the moral teaching of the church was being undermined by the introduction of civil partnerships.
A Swedish pastor, Ake Green, was sentenced to one month in jail after giving a sermon in which he said homosexuality was a “deep cancerous tumour” in society. He was acquitted on appeal.
Joe and Helen Roberts were interrogated by police after they complained about their local council’s ‘gay rights’ police. The police said it was a ‘homophobic incident’. The police later admitted no crime had been committed and the police and council issued a public apology.
In 2006 the Western Isles Council in Scotland received hate mail and death threats because its registrars refused, on moral grounds, to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.
We need to make MPs aware that such an amendment is likely to be put forward on Monday, and warn them that if such a law were passed it would constitute a serious attack on freedom of speech in this country. Please call or write to you MP before Monday to let them know your views on this issue, tell them of the above examples and urge them to take a stand for freedom of speech.
When you contact your MP please remember to be courteous and explain why you are calling. They may or may not know that this amendment will possibly be put forward. Make it clear that, as Christians, we do not support violent or intimidating behaviour towards any person – yet we do believe that certain practices are wrong and wish to be able to say as much in a democratic society.
Remind your MP about the arguments put forward in the religious hatred debate, and how those concerned about that law included not only Christians, but people from all walks of life who felt it was important for freedom of speech not to be compromised.
Ask your MP to commit to protecting freedom of speech, even where that means that some people will be offended by that speech. Explain that we are not asking for special treatment, we are simply asking to be allowed to speak out about our beliefs without fear of threat, intimidation and police action.
To speak to your MP, call the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000 and ask to be put through to your MP’s office (to find out who your MP is, go to http://www.upmystreet.com/commons/l/). You can also email your MP at http://www.writetothem.com/