It seems the United Kingdom is grappling with the equivalent to our “hate crimes” debate….. except Labour’s proposal would infringe on our First Amendment.
Peter Tatchell, one of the most consistently principled gay activists in the world, is troubled by the proposed crackdown on “hate speech” in Britain. (Read the whole thing!)
Jack Straw has decided to introduce yet another criminal offence, adding to the 3,000 new crimes Labour has introduced since it came to power in 1997. This latest offence will prohibit the incitement of homophobic hatred.
It is intended to help tackle anti-queer prejudice, which is a good intention. But will this legislation work? Is it necessary? Might it not lead to infringements of free speech? Are there more effective ways to challenge homophobia and other hateful incitements?
A much more important issue is the fact that the government, police and prosecution service are failing to enforce the laws prohibiting the incitement of actual violence and murder against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Inciting violence and murder is much worse, in my view, than inciting hate. Yet the relevant laws are often not enforced. Why not?
Likewise, some fundamentalist Muslim clerics, on the extremist wing of Islam, openly urge the killing of gay people, unchaste women and Muslims who turn away from their faith. In east London in 2005, hate preacher Abdul Muhid of the pro-jihad Saviour Sect, urged the murder of homosexuals. Despite witnesses willing to go to court, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute him. Yet when the Islamist Abdullah el-Faisal incited the murder of Jews, Hindus and Americans in 2003 he was promptly arrested, convicted and jailed. More double standards.
The non-prosecution of Muslim clerics who incite the murder of gay people is a tragic betrayal of vulnerable gay and lesbian Muslims. They live in fear of the homophobic violence that is being stirred up by Islamist extremists. What signal does this official hands-off attitude send to queer Muslims? That the government does not care about their suffering? Police and CPS inaction gives homophobic persecutors a de facto green light to continue their violent threats.
Introducing legislation prohibiting the incitement of homophobic hatred seems a bit amiss when already-existing laws are not being enforced against the much more serious crimes of inciting violence and murder. Please, Mr Straw, ensure the enforcement of the current laws before you start introducing new ones.
Sounds like a vaguely familiar debate, no?
The most troubling part of this article is the fact that it makes me wonder: Where are the principled American gay activists with an intellectual strength like Peter’s? Why don’t American gay activists see the real threat to gays by Islamists as opposed to their puffed-up threat-mongering splashed against Republicans?
Ah yes, silly me. The answer is clear: Democrat fundraising needs.