Thursday, May 07, 2009

Homophobic hate crimes: in the Lords

Action: please lobby the Lords who voted in favour of the clarification of the hate-crimes clause last time around. All they need to do is vote the same way again. To see the list of Peers’ votes, please click here.

From Christian Concern for our Nation: The ‘Chilling Effect’ on Free Speech of the Coroners and Justice Bill and How You can Help to Stop It

The offence of ‘inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation’ is part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (‘CJI Act’). Lord Waddington successfully inserted a free speech clause into that Act, which clause 61 (formerly clause 58) of the Coroners and Justice Bill now seeks to remove. Clause 61 has been passed by the Commons. It reads as follows:

61 Hatred against persons on grounds of sexual orientation
In Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64) (hatred against persons on grounds of sexual orientation etc), omit section 29JA (protection for discussion or criticism of sexual conduct etc).

Section 29JA (which clause 61 seeks to omit) reads as follows:

29JA Protection of freedom of expression (sexual orientation)
In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.

The provisions of the Bill are likely to be considered in the House of Lords shortly after its Second Reading on 18th May.

‘Stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation’ carries a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment. Without highlighting the legal distinction between ‘discussion’ on one hand and the ‘stirring up’ of ‘hatred’ on the other, ordinary people will be frightened into silence, unsure whether they can challenge the new morality that seeks to normalise and promote homosexual practice.

Nobody supports the stirring up of hatred, but equally no reasonable person should object to peaceful criticism and discussion of sexual behaviour. Repealing this clause would remove the clear legal protection for such criticism and discussion from the face of the statute. Issuing Guidelines to police and prosecutors cannot hope to undo the damage this will cause. If clause 61 is passed, the consequences would include a climate of fear surrounding the mere discussion of sexual ethics and potentially the silencing of the Christian view.

Let us stand as Christians for our freedom to make a peaceful and reasonable case for biblical sexual ethics.

Attempts to amend this same Bill to allow assisted suicide, including a
high-profile bid by former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, have so far
failed. However, we can expect further attempts by the pro-euthanasia lobby to
decriminalise assistance with suicide abroad during its Committee Stage, which
follows Second Reading. This would render the existing law inconsistent. People
would ask why it is acceptable to assist with a suicide abroad, but not at
home. The consequences are plain for all to see.

A concerted campaign is growing in the media to normalise the idea of legalising
assistance with suicide: Dr Philip Nitschke is in the UK once again promoting
different methods for committing suicide and this month Chris Woodhead, former
chief of OFSTED, has made known his desire to commit suicide in the Daily Mail.
Pray that the Lord would hold the line and that the sanctity of life would be
preserved in our law. For further information, read the latest newsletter from
Care Not Killing by clicking here and visit the website by clicking here.

Please use the list of Peers’ votes at the link below to find out which Peers
voted for the free speech clause in May 2008. Please write to as many as you
can, asking them to attend Parliament to vote for any amendment that would
remove clause 61. If you have any personal contact with a Peer, please seek to
persuade them of the necessity of voting for the free speech clause.

Please join our campaign to protect free speech and to prevent assisted suicide
by writing to Peers. Our updated Information and Action pack provides the
resources you need to do this quickly and effectively. Please click on the icon
on the right and take action as soon as you can. Remember, the date for the
Second Reading is Monday, 18th May, after which the Bill will be discussed in
Committee, when clauses are debated and amendments tabled.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen