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Amendments to the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Comment 12th July 2010

Although there are many strong arguments in favour of shielding the adherents of a religious ideology from hatred, these arguments should not extend to the protection of ideas that constitute that religious ideology. To do so would be to the detriment of our democratic way of life, and would disproportionally inhibit those of us (myself included) who wish to tackle the unwarranted hatred espoused by certain religious ideologies, whether that be towards the gay community, women or other sub-groups in our society. There are many religious texts in Britain today whose verses are at best ambiguious, or at worst inciteful so as to provide a justification for one section of society to oppress another, or to commit horrendous acts of terrorism. This ambiguity, and the empirical evidence that corroborates these assertions in the form of 9/11 or IRA terrorism, could lead quite justifiably to an athiest such as myself, to conclude that they "hate" a religious ideology, or even all religious ideologies if hateful sentiments can be inferred from them across the board. Currently however, only expressions of "antipathy" are allowed against religious texts, not "hatred". While I do not personally advocate "hatred" against a religious ideology, I can see why an individual might feel that way inclined, and therefore do not believe they should be arrested for this. Accordingly, I believe a supplementary protection for freedom of speech should be added to section 29J of the Act, as highlighted in bold:

"29J Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of hatred, antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system."

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