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Britain to outlaw incitement of gay hatred

Tue 9 Oct 2007 In: International News View at Wayback

The British Government today announced plans to outlaw the incitement of hatred against homosexuals. "It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last ten years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality," Justice Secretary Jack Straw said. "It is time for the law to recognise this." Straw said the new legislation would protect gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. The Government would consider arguments on whether it should be extended to include disabled and transgendered people, and would proceed "if a case can be made", he said. The move was welcomed by gay rights campaign group Stonewall. "We've worked tirelessly over the last six months, seeking to persuade ministers to match existing race incitement laws with identical protections for sexual orientation," said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive. "A new offence will help deter extremists who stir up hatred against lesbian and gay people." The proposals may face criticism from free speech campaigners who previously expressed concern over laws that ban incitement of religious hatred which came into force at the beginning of the month. They had said the laws would criminalise comedians who make jokes at the expense of religion, and Rowan Atkinson, star of the Mr. Bean series of television shows and films, warned against the new regulations. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice dismissed those concerns with regard to today's news, however, saying: "The new law would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but it would protect them from incitement to hatred against them because of their sexual orientation."     Ref: (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 9th October 2007 - 10:37am

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