Lords back free speech shield in 'gay hate' law

The Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over its attempt to repeal a free speech protection from a sexual orientation ‘hatred’ law.

Peers voted by 186 to 133 to keep the protection in place. The matter will be passed back to the House of Commons where MPs voted for repeal.

The protection makes clear that criticising homosexual conduct or encouraging people to refrain from such conduct is not, in itself, a crime.

The Government says the protection is not necessary, insisting that the ‘homophobic hatred’ offence would not catch the expression of such beliefs.

But several members of the House of Lords were concerned about incidents of Christians being challenged by the police because of their beliefs on sexual ethics.

Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson is in favour of keeping the free speech protection, as are several prominent homosexuals including journalist Matthew Parris, comedian Christopher Biggins and ‘gay rights’ activist Peter Tatchell.

• Full story at the Christian Institute.