The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 undermines our freedom of speech and freedom of expression. These are basic rights in our democracy. It is fundamental to our way of life that we can freely, openly and publicly question the beliefs of those who would force their understanding of “eternal and universal truths” on the rest of society. Is it reasonable to use the force of the law to protect someone’s belief system or particular world view?
I fully uphold anyone’s right to hold whatever beliefs they wish, and strongly support the state and the legal system in defending them from persecution for their beliefs and the proper and lawful observance of them. The Act goes too far in giving such protection, in that it is perceived as protecting “beliefs” themselves from such questioning. It is an absolute right that anyone can question, criticise, and even ridicule someone’s beliefs, and this freedom must not, indeed cannot, be diluted in any way. Doing so undermines our basic freedoms and will lead inevitably to a totalitarian state.
It has been said that no judge would allow the Act to be used to foster any particular set of beliefs over another. It seems to me that even allowing such a possibility to arise is completely unjustifiable. Why should the law allow itself to be abused by sectarian interests in this manner.
The Act fails to achieve its objectives of protecting people from abuse because it is seen as preventing any open discussion, or even mention, of matters of belief. This creates tensions and resentment among those who want to propose alternative views, and inhibits an active and honest discussion of issues of real and abiding importance to both individuals and society at large.
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 is bad law and should be repealed immediately.