Religious Hatred Bill Reintroduced

June 9, 2005

Source: 4NI

On June 9, 2005 4NI reported, "The government has published a bill aimed at protecting individuals from religious hatred. The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which is being reintroduced to Parliament today, would protect members of all faiths from incited hatred. The Bill would create a new offence of Incitement to Religious Hatred, which would carry a maximum penalty of seven years in jail. The government says that this would close a gap in the existing law – the current law protects Jews and Sikhs from incited hatred under racial hatred legislation, as they are perceived as racial groups. However, members of other faiths, such as Muslims – who can come from a variety of different racial backgrounds – are not protected by the current legislation. The announcement of the new legislation has been welcomed by groups such as The Commission for Racial Equality, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Hindu Forum and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. However, critics of the bill, including actor Rowan Atkinson, have expressed concerns that the Bill will affect free speech."