This bill was first brought up a year ago and debated and the lone voice that tirelessly campaigned against this was a british comedian Rowan Atkinson this bill passed in Canada some three years ago cause the bible to be delcared as hate literature and preaching the Gospel and calling people sinners as hate speach -- to date there are a number of such cased in canadian courts and in australian courts.


England: Religious hate bill goes to vote
BBC ^ | 1/30/06 | BBC

Posted on 01/30/2006 9:04:44 PM PST by freedom44

Thousands of demonstrators are expected outside Parliament as MPs vote on plans to ban incitement to religious hatred.

Ministers want religious groups to have the same protection from hate crimes as racial groups.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill has undergone substantial changes in the Lords but the government hopes to push through a compromise amendment.

Critics claim the bill is drawn too widely and could stop free speech and unfairly target artists.

Last year peers voted by a majority of 149 in favour of a cross-bench move to implement freedom of speech safeguards.

These include making sure nobody is found guilty of religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred.

They say only "threatening words" should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting.

'Chilling effect'

A coalition of politicians, writers and artists is trying to persuade ministers to accept the changes made by peers.

At a press conference on Monday, comedian Rowan Atkinson, who has been a prominent critic of the bill, said: "No one deserves a right to freedom from criticism."

Government attempts to include an offence of being "reckless" about stirring up hatred could affect performers, he added.

These freedoms to speak and to argue, to criticise and indeed to ridicule, once lost, are very rarely got back

Evan Harris MP

Q&A: Religious hatred law

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are opposed to the bill, as are some Labour backbenchers.

Labour backbencher Bob Marshall-Andrews said the legislation was "going to have a chilling effect on not just religion but on the whole spectrum of freedom of speech".

He said he did not know how many of his party colleagues would vote against the government but that many would "make their minds up very, very late".

Liberal Democrat human rights spokesman Evan Harris said Tuesday's vote on the bill would be parliament's last chance to protect free speech.

'Freedom to ridicule'

"These freedoms to speak and to argue, to criticise and indeed to ridicule, once lost, are very rarely got back.

Shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve said his party would do "everything it can to work with others in parliament to remove the worst parts of the governments' proposals".

Under the proposed law the offence of inciting racial hatred would carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Sikhs and Jews already have full protection from incitement because the courts regard them as distinct races.

But Christians, Muslims and others are not afforded the same protection because they do not constitute a single ethnic block.