Editorial: Racial and Religious Hatred Bill Must Be Amended

October 24, 2005

Source: The Times


On October 24, 2005 The Times editorial commented on the religious hatred bill under consideration in Parliament. The Times editorial staff writes, "[T]he drafting of the Bill has produced not just a mess, but a proposed law that would severely threaten free speech. No one can choose their race, but they can, and do, choose their religious or political beliefs. Criticism of these beliefs is the very essence of a healthy democracy. The Bill is also defective because it lacks 'legal certainty'. There is no adequate definition of 'hatred', or what would amount to 'insulting or abusive behaviour'. The Bill would therefore attempt to outlaw something it cannot define... The Lords amendments, tabled by a cross-party group of peers, seek to clarify the important distinction between laws against racism and those that seek to protect the religious from persecution. They specifically spell out that ridicule, criticism and antipathy expressed towards a religion — an important measure of a healthy liberal democracy — would be protected."