Thursday, December 09, 2004

British Hate Crimes legislation

DPF cites with approval the submission that Rowan Atkinson made to a UK select committee against the proposed hate crimes legislation. My brother, who just arrived from the UK for Christmas, informs me that the proposal to ban hate speech against religions is really to address a disparity within the current legislation. Currently one can be prosecuted for inciting violence against Jews and Sikhs because the practitioners of those religions constitute ethnic groups and promoting hatred against ethnic groups is a criminal offence. However if one were to use similar speech against Catholics or Protestants in Northern Ireland then no offence has been committed because Catholics and Protestants are not ethnic groups.

Furthermore my brother makes the point that hate speech is defined as the promotion of violence (such the infamous "kill a white and die a hero" that was uttered here quite a few years ago) rather than adverse comments about a given religion for critical or comical purposes.