Yesterday the UK Government announced in Parliament that it would table an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill to extend the offence of incitement to racial hatred to cover hatred against persons on the basis of their sexuality.
The Government have a strong record of promoting equality and of tackling discrimination and bigotry in all its guises. We have strengthened the sentencing framework, so that sentences can be increased where race, religion, disability or sexual orientation are aggravating factors. We have also introduced legislation to outlaw the stirring up of religious hatred, as my hon. Friend reminded the House. We have received many representations on the matter, and I am pleased to say that we will propose a further step to strengthen the protection afforded to homosexual people. It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last 10 years that we are all now appalled by hatred and invective directed against gay people, and it is now time for the law to recognise the feeling of the public. In Committee, we will table an amendment to extend the offence of incitement to racial hatred to cover hatred against persons on the basis of their sexuality. Homophobic abuse, lyrics and literature are every bit as abhorrent to those concerned as material inciting hatred based on race or religion, and have no place in our communities.
Media reporting of this today gives some prominence to objections from religious groups:
The Times Inciting hatred against gays could lead to 7 years in prison and yesterday before the announcement, Christians fear jail for criticising gays
Daily Telegraph Seven years jail for gay hate preachers
Guardian Straw moves to ban incitement against gays
Daily Mail New law means anti-gay comments could lead to seven years in jail
Daily Express JAIL THREAT TO VICARS UNDER GAY HATE LAW
BBC Plans to outlaw inciting gay hate
According to the Daily Mail (no other paper mentioned this):
Last night a CofE spokesman said: “We will be scrutinising any legislation to ensure that it safeguards the safety and rights of minorities without jeopardising wider concerns for freedom of expression, including the expression of religious faith.”
The Christian Institute is already on the case, see Gospel freedom threatened by homosexual hate crime.
The text of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act is here.
The Evangelical Alliance had this to say about it.