Thursday, 9 July 2009

Waddington amendment upheld in Lords

For the background to this, see bishops oppose repeal of Waddington.

The relevant bill reached the House of Lords this week, and as the Independent reports,

Peers today defeated the Government’s attempt to overturn a “free speech” defence to the law on homophobic hatred.

The move by Tory former Home Secretary Lord Waddington to uphold the provision was passed by 186 votes to 133, majority 53.

Read ‘Free speech’ defeats incitement laws by Nicholas Randall and Anthony Looch, Press Association.

The BBC also reports it as Labour defeat on incitement laws.

Riazat Butt has written a comment article on Cif belief Free speech or homophobia?

…The Bishop of Winchester, a senior Anglican cleric, said: “What is at stake is whether this House and this Parliament intends to outlaw, among not just Christians but others, open discussion and teaching of views that differ from the currently dominant political orthodoxy.”

Some peers, as well as the Ministry of Justice, were disappointed with today’s result, saying the free speech provision would be used as a defence by those looking to incite hatred towards gays and lesbians.

In what was portrayed as a battle for free speech, a coalition of Anglican bishops, Conservative peers, Labour malcontents and leading crossbenchers united to block the proposals…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 July 2009 at 7:08pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
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Riazat B asks, (rhetorically?): What do the bishops fear, if not the improbable option that the new law would have led to their automatic prosecution for hate speech? Indeed.

While the various religious conservative communities loudly pat themselves on the back – always, no matter what? - for never, ever, ever wishing or unintentionally happening to stir up negatives towards, say, queer folks? - a couple of themes, variously expressed or costumed, seem quite clear to the rest of us who have to listen to them congratulate themselves, so loudly, and so very often.

One them is: I KNOW better than you, and in fact, thanks to God, I AM better than you. This surely is one message the conservative believers send in all their self-regarding public manners, caught in all available levels of conservative religious message coding. Often.

We all must surely know by now that being straight is far, far, far, far, far, far better than being gay or lesbian or trans – under any and all times or circumstances. Given that assumption, as such, only straight citizens should get to set law or public policy about non-straight citizens. Preferably, this extends to a knowing nod that, yes, whenever possible, religious straight citizens should always be setting law or public policy for everybody else. Otherwise? Moral chaos, Anything Goes, and not a whit of social or human decency will be left, flapping its sadly tattered banners, noisily in the cold, deadly winds of empty sinner's doom.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 9 July 2009 at 9:22pm BST

Behind the religious curtains, one easily glimpses the message from antigay believers:

I must never be faced with people or evidence, contrary to my flat earth-isms about queer folks. As a religious believer-citizen, I must be left undisturbed in the closed bubble of my own special revelation.

Thus, I may occupy the only possible real moral realm.

My rights to protect myself from alternative ideas – and the other people who might hold them – trumps.

In workplaces, schools, public squares, assemblies, I need never, ever come down from my special religious revelation high horse.
I shall never, ever have to diminish my high self by imagining the icky tragedy of actually being what I preach queer folks innately and categorically, are. God's blessing means that I never have to put myself in those shoes. I can roundly object to mention of any citizen's needs or aspirations, as a Out Queer Citizen. I can harrumph and clear my throat, then say how damning it all is, this world and world to come.

I may preach completely horrible things about queer folks, thanks to my special religious revelation.

Teetering brilliantly on this mean brink, I can say all manner of downwards, backwards, just awful things about queer folks - while neatly disclaiming that any prejudice or - wink, wink, nudge, nudge - violence ever belongs to me or my narratives. My special revelation sleight of hand is such that, I can say absolutely negative things about all queer folks as a group; while disclaiming that I am talking against any real, live queer citizen in particular whom anybody might happen to know or love, positively, in real daily life.

Isn't that a special trick? Glad you noticed.

You see, I am religious. I hold my flat earth negatives about queer folks, particularly, for religious reasons. Period, revelation on, everything else, off.

All that adds up. I must be protected. My privilege for loudly and categorically saying how utterly far down I absolutely expect any and all queer folks to live to a degree that anybody with common sense would immediately find terrible and ghastly – well that is sacred.

Just sacred. How dare the rest of you?

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 9 July 2009 at 9:45pm BST

I've read this inside out and backwards, and I simply cannot figure it out.

As I (somewhat) understand it the "Waddington Amendment" seems simply to make the statute/law explicit in forbidding threatening public speech or writing against homosexuals. And some bishops are bent out of shape fearing that they will be unable to speak/preach against homosexual behavior if the amendment is accepted. And Labour is also against the amendment (for some reason I cannot fathom.)

And, as far as I can understand it, the House of Lords has now accepted and passed the "Waddington Amendment" in spite of the bishops' fearful disapproval. But somewhere, somehow, the bishops have been assured (by someone) of the "right of free speech" in spite of the amendment.

And now does the statute (or law or whatever) as amended have to be passed by the Commons as well? Or is it now "in force"?

Please excuse this dense Yankee. We understand your legislative processes much less well than you understand ours!

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Thursday, 9 July 2009 at 10:06pm BST

For the very first time I've sent a complaint to OFCOM after casually bumping into Genesis TV about 1:15 am when in quick succession a caller offended homosexuals, Islam and Roman Catholicism, and the presenter was in full agreement with his believing brother. It was offensive material and crossed a line even when you expect this from Christian-Zionist fundies. This Waddington Amendment and its defence seems to allow such speech to be made: if derogatory and threatening speech was not acceptable transmitted into the public space then a station like Genesis-Revelation TV would have to think hard how it framed whatever are its beliefs. And that's the difference.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 1:58am BST

What DrDan said!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 8:23am BST

"some bishops are bent out of shape fearing that they will be unable to speak/preach against homosexual behavior if the amendment is accepted."

Which is why they need to be asked, publically and repeatedly, why it is that they seem unable to even conceive of a way to preach a message of celibacy for homosexuals without resorting to hate speech. It is quite funny, actually, how conservatives seem absolutely incapable of understanding that threat, misrepresentation, and condemnation are NOT actually good tools for evangelism in the modern age, whatever they might once have worked to frighten the lowly into conformity.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 2:37pm BST

Dear John Julian,

Last year, a member of the House of Lords managed to get inserted into legislation that was going through Parliament a clause that said if you were put on trial for inciting hatred against homosexuals you could defend yourself by claiming that you were exercising your right to free speech.

This week, the Government tried to have that clause removed, arguing that the bar was already set high enough to allow for genuine remarks and debate about homosexuality to take place without the 'incitement to hatred' law being broken. Also, that the 'free speech' defense would in fact make it difficult to bring any prosecution against anybody.

The House of Lords rejected the Government's argument and voted to retain the clause.

Regards.

Posted by: Terence Dear on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 3:28pm BST

Pluralist, I realize that the Mother Country is different than the Colonies across the Pond, but if all the caller did was to bluntly say that (in so many words) gay people, Muslims, and Roman Catholics were not very nice people, and the caller would never dine with them, then it is unfortunate that the caller feels that way, and that the host agreed, but isn't this precisely within the confines of free speech that our dear brothers and sisters in opposition are concerned about?
I detest people who hide behind religion, morals, norms and history to proclaim that GLBT are reprehensible and need to be cured, but if they go no further than that, it is their right to express their opinion, and our right to vehemently object.
If they deliberately incite voiolence, however, throw them in pris0on.

Posted by: peterpi on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 7:41pm BST

I can't think of a better example of why bishops should be reformed out of a new House of Lords. Not only do they not represent the views of the community, they don't even represent the views of most members of the C of E.

Posted by: toby forward on Saturday, 11 July 2009 at 8:11am BST
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