Religious Hate Bill Faces Late Rebellion

June 21, 2005

Source: The Guardian,11026,1511254,00.html

On June 21, 2005 The Guardian reported, "The government faces a backbench rebellion tonight on one of its flagship manifesto pledges, when MPs vote on whether to create a new offence of 'inciting religious hatred.' Twenty-five Labour MPs rebelled when the measure was last put before parliament. Now, with Labour's majority reduced to 68 at the election, and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats opposed to the bill, it could face a close vote tonight.

Yesterday artists and writers, led by comedian Rowan Atkinson, made a last-minute appeal to the government to drop the bill, which they say will stifle free speech.

They back a Lib Dem compromise which would expand existing laws on inciting racial hatred to cover using religion 'as a proxy' for race. The vote is not expected until about 9pm tonight."