Now, UK Law to Build Religious Tolerance

October 1, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Indian Express

Incitement to religious hatred will become a criminal offence in England and Wales with the commencement of a new Act from Monday that will extend the protection to Hindus, Muslims and Christians, hitherto enjoyed by only Sikhs and Jews.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act creates a new offence of intentionally stirring up religious hatred against people on religious grounds, closing a gap in the current legislation. Existing offences in the Public Order 1986 Act legislate against inciting racial hatred.

Sikhs and Jews have been deemed by the courts to be racial groups and are protected under this legislation, but other groups such as Hindus, Muslims and Christians are considered to be religious rather than racial groups, and have therefore not previously received any protection under the law.

The new Act will give protection to these groups by outlawing the use of threatening words or behaviour intended to incite hatred against groups of people defined by their religious beliefs or lack of belief.