There are some interesting civil rights situations happening across the pond.
In England a debate has erupted over a “hate speech” law that was recently expanded to include prohibitions against inciting violence against others, based on sexual orientation or gender-identity. The law has been around for centuries, originally including prohibitions against inciting religious or ethnic violence.
The director of the Christian Institute says it’s an issue of free speech and that prison should not be the penalty for “expressing sincerely held religious beliefs.” Yet the Muslim preacher in East London who urged the murder of gays might say his religious beliefs were sincerely held too.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission has also condemned the proposed law, arguing that it will “either be watered down until it becomes pointless, or you deprive people of free speech.”
Earlier this year, it was made illegal for hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to bar guests over their sexuality. Here again, Muslims and Christians united, arguing that to rent a room to a gay couple would go against their religious beliefs, essentially denying them freedom of religion.
Their objections didn’t sway the politicians.
This time though, not all gays are comfortable with the proposed legislation. Writing in the Guardian, Peter Tatchell, an outspoken human rights and gay rights activist wonders whether it might indeed infringe upon free speech.
He also says current laws designed to protect gays are not enforced, so why expect this one to be?
Tatchell also points out that similar laws have in the past been abused, recalling the case of a student arrested for making a joke about a policeman’s horse being gay.
Here in America, arch-conservatives absolutely freaked when the Matthew Shephard Act was passed. Including people in hate crimes legislation will take away their right to free speech, they say.
Unfortunately for those conservatives, they live in America. Maybe they haven’t realized that yet.
American hate crimes laws apply only to the violence itself and doesn’t punish a person from preaching. The only way a preacher is going to be slapped with a hate crime is if he directly tells someone to go out and kill a queer (and then that person does).
If our dear arch-conservatives want to experience a real lack of their civil right to spew hatred, they should take a trip to the land of really cute guys with cute accents, *cough*cough* ahem, I mean, take a trip to England.