» Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Religious Hatred Bill

Asked if the Prime Minster would be voting on the Bill and why he thought it was so important to push through the legislation on threatening or abusive behaviour, the PMOS said he was not sure whether the Prime Minster’s schedule would allow him to vote. The reason it was important was because people had identified a gap in the law where it was illegal to say things that incited hatred against Sikhs and Jews but it was not illegal against other religions. As people like Saddiq Khan had exemplified there were cases where groups had knowingly exploited that loophole. Paul Goggins had made clear today that we did not intend for this to be used against those who criticised or made fun of religions. There was, however, a genuine problem with people exploiting the loophole to incite hatred against certain groups such as Muslims.

Put to him that critics argued that it was not that it was the intent but rather the interpretation of the letter of the law and on that basis it was too wide ranging, the PMOS said it was to address such points that the changes suggested had been made. It was equally important that those who were critical recognised that there was a real problem that needed to be addressed. This was not being done for the sake of it, but because of that real problem, not least because some religions were more protected than others. The Government believed such a differentiation was wrong.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Search for related news

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