back to article Religious hatred a crime from October, but exemptions are wide

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act comes into force in October, carrying a threat of prison terms for a person who tries to stir up religious hatred. However, its free speech exemptions are so wide that convictions could be difficult, a lawyer said. The new law creates an offence of using threatening words or behaviour to stir …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for some common sense...

    I'm thankful that some common sense seems to have leaked in.

    Using insulting language would mean almost anyone could have arrested at the drop of a hat... We all know how good the police have become at letter of the law policing, and not spirit of the law, so best we don't give them any more rope than they need. Jim Davidson has enough problems without all his religious material being made illegal!

    Hopefully with this new law, we might see some arrests (and deportations please!) of the crazy religious zealots who happily live off our social security hand outs, accept our housing, then shout for the downfall of the WASP infidels. No names, no pack drill.

    Anon (and remaining that way... I don't have *that* much confidence in the system!)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Making a case against the catholic church...

    On official forms under "religion" I put atheist; making it a religion in itself (albeit the "anti-religion"). The Catholics continue to threaten me with an eternity of burning in hell - where do I queue up to sue them??

  3. Simon Painter

    Prosecute George Lucas

    As 'Jedism' is a recognised (in some places) religion, does this mean that George Lucas can be prosecuted for inciting hatred, fear and the path to the dark side?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many deaths from Religious Incitement in UK?

    Tony is gone but his idiot kitchen cabinet laws continue to filter through the system.

    Take a look around at all this incitement to cause religious hatred, look at all those UK dead and injured people, tragic victims of religious based hate speech that whipped up the masses into attacking them.

    All none of them.

    Man how much more of this Tony slime still has to filter through?

  5. EvilFairy


    why do we need laws that specify religion or race?

    surely stirring up aggression and hatred against anyone no matter what or who they are should be the crime

    why is "I hate x becasue he's different" any different to "I hate x becasue he's <insert race/religion/sexuality>"

    and is "lets kill all left handers" any different to "lets kill all <insert race/religion/sexuality>"?

    I don't see why they should be making up laws and acts or whatever they are to cover specific things when they could have 1 general law that simply says something like "Stirring up and inciting hatred or violence against a person or group is wrong and should be punished" religion race whatever shouldn't come into it.

    hmm I wonder

    "Hate those that made these laws necessary, and beat the living daylights out of them" would that be OK as its not racist or religiously motivated?

    Anyway lets all be friends and if you don't like someone's differences be nice n leave them alone

    unless it the government, in which case burn them out! ;)

  6. Anarchy

    can I dis religion?

    I'm not planning on hating religion (law-abiding citizen etc) but as an athiest, I have ZERO respect for anyone's religious views, as I do for anyone who believes in Santa Claus or the tooth-fairy.

    So is it still ok to laugh at people's religious views, tell them they are wasting thier life, there is no heaven waiting for them, and that they are being conned by by thier priests?

    After all, they coming knocking on my door on a f******* saturday morning (when I feel like I'm in hell anyway) telling me I'm going to hell unless I believe in thier god.

  7. gabor

    re: why

    EvilFairy, check the first comment, posted by Anon. IANAL, but I think the poster correctly sees what the purpose of this law is. I think we can agree that we'd all be better off without those guys not only in the UK, but on the whole continent. So there is some logic to this law. Enforcement and abuse are totally separate questions.

  8. Richard

    Please, please, please, please, please....

    Could *all* of Jim Davidson's material be made illegal.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean...

    ..that the use of 'Jesus Christ!' as a term of exclamation or as a swear word will be illegal from October onwards? Geniune question, I'm not interested in actually using this law, given that it's no substitute for a combination of free speech and common sense. I just hear this exclamation used a lot and find myself wondering why people don't exclaim 'Muhammed!' when seeing a ladies breast implant deflate. No prizes for guessing the previous Reg article I was reading!

  10. Ruud Noorhoff


    Are the Bible & Qur'an now illegal?

  11. Billy

    @ Anarchy

    "So is it still ok to laugh at people's religious views, tell them they are wasting thier life, ....."

    Only if you accept their right to do the same to you.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean ...

    that the Bible, Torah and Koran are banned as they each stir up hatred of the other in no more than a million words? I really hope so for they are a load of old meaningless toot. Or excrement if you prefer.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Look. If someone insults my religion I'm not going to go crying to the Police.

    I'll just stick my flaming lightsabre right up the miscreant's jacksey.......

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  15. Andy S

    slight niggle

    but on stories like this, can you say which country the law applies to. On this one i got halfway through before i knew if it was the UK or the US.

  16. Andrew Thomas

    Shouldn't be illegal, but it IS offensive

    "..that the use of 'Jesus Christ!' as a term of exclamation or as a swear word will be illegal from October onwards? Geniune question."

    As a Christian, I find casual blaspheming around the office really offensive and unpleasant. Of course, it shouldn't be illegal (we don't want to end up like Iran), but I wish the ignorati who use casual blasphemy without thinking who they're offending whould shut the f*ck up. I wouldn't insult your mother or your wife in the workplace, so you don't insult something I care about. It's not a legal issue, it's just behaving decently and with respect in the company of others.

  17. IanKRolfe

    @Andy S

    Since the URL is www.theregister.CO.UK I would think that, unless there is an indication to the contrary, then politics stories here relate to the UK.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dissin' in the river of life

    "Right, so they'll be stymied from using different words to describe them now?"

    I can imagine how it might go. We'll have bigots shouting "I hate those bloody patellofemoral geoids. Those despicable lying astroblemes. I hate them and their lying ways, and I urge you to seek out those bleedin' nutriceutical menisci and burn down their particulate dynospheres with a diamond synchronotron".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andrew Thomas

    "I wouldn't insult your mother or your wife in the workplace"

    And I wouldn't insult your mother or your wife either. But you're more than welcome to mock my choice of football team, my hobbies or my invisible friend, pal, and I reserve the right to do the same to you.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If 'blasphemy' is the act of insulting or lack of reverence for (a particular) God then surely it can only be performed by those who believe in (that particular) God: by definition, if you are not a believer, you can't insult something that doesn't exist, can you?

    Thor's effing Hammer*, you can't disagree with that, surely

    (* insert blasphemy of your choice)

  21. Rick

    Oh England, there you go again

    Ya know, the British government hasn't historically done a fantastic job of managing religion. Heck, they even invented a new one once having made the theological discovery of royal infallibility. :)

    Actually, this law sounds like it'd be handy for justifying an inquisition. :D

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You're making it too complicated, the Americans would just ship them off to a death camp, no need for all this 'law' and 'trial' bollocks, so of course it's UK news.

    On a related note, atheists annoy me (although I'm atheism-leaning agnostic) when they talk about people trying to hammer religion into them while using that as an attempt to put forward their own views as mockingly as possible. The religiously affiliated people I know are all level people who respect any other person's views as they would like their own views respected. Even if they push their religion at you at least they don't take the piss, which, surprisingly, makes them look a bit more grown up. Even though I'm hardly convinced, I'd be very surprised if the 'loudmouth' atheists have bothered reading any of the rebuttals written about Dawkins et al.

    Oh well.

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  24. M Neligan


    Well, Mike, whatever you believe/don't believe in seems to have influenced you into being a really nice person...

  25. Peter Mellor

    Thank God I'm an atheist

    First comment (anonymous): "I'm thankful that some common sense seems to have leaked in."

    We all have cause to be thankful. It was on the cards that we could have had to deal with an extension of the current law of blasphemy (which in England applies only to the official state religion in the UK, i.e., the Anglican Church) to other religions, which would have stifled freedom of speech to an unimaginable extent.

    Recall that Mary Whitehouse dug out a 14th Century law against "blasphemous libel" to obtain an injunction against a poem by James Fenton (? - not sure of the author's name) which she found offensive to Christian (i.e., her) beliefs. I think the poem used the conceit (a literary term meaning an extended metaphor) of a homosexual fantasy by the centurion guarding the crucified Jesus, however I can't state this with certainty, since I am not allowed to read the poem thanks to Whitehouse's very successful suppression of it.

    I guess that there are other little gems of medieval legislation which could still bite us.

    Second comment (also anonymous): "On official forms under "religion" I put atheist; making it a religion in itself (albeit the "anti-religion")."

    So why don't you just put "None", like I do? ("Atheism" is NOT a "religion": it is a rational refusal to be taken in by superstition.)

    The "Jedi knight" idea is amusing. It originated in Australia, where some bright spark noticed that anything that was stated on more than 10,000 census forms as a "religion" had legally to be treated as such, and thought that if enough Australians could be persuaded to enter this, a new official religion could be created at a stroke in a recent census. I'm not sure if it worked, but it might not apply outside Oz in any case.

    Returning to the main debate:

    As things stand, we seem to have a law which is merely a bit of gesture politics. As commentators have pointed out, the advocation of murder or other violence against any group is already well covered by existing UK law. The law about to come into force seems to be restricted to utterances which are *intended* to provoke hatred and violence and which explicitly advocate such action. I can live with this, and it is welcome insofar as it might be used to restrict the activities and curb the more insane pronouncements of mad imams who claim that Jihad (in the military sense) is a duty of Muslims.

    If I state that Mohammed was a deluded illiterate camel driver whose philosophy is a muddled derivation of Jewish and Christian thought in the 7th Century (and I would seriously defend this view, having studied the Koran) then I don't think I would fall foul of the new law, even though Muslims would find this grossly offensive. I abhor violence for religious, racial and political (and other) reasons, and my intention is to provoke thought, not violence.

    The effects of the new law will only become apparent in the first test case, of course.

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