The Guardian reports, in a story called Lords defeat for religious hatred bill, that the House of Lords voted against the British government’s Religious and Racial Hatred Bill. The opposition to the Bill crossed party lines with many Labour peers joining Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in opposing the Bill. The government can still override the Lords and pass the Bill into law in the Commons, which is a special process to break deadlock between the two House of the British Parliament. For background, here are the British government’s explanatory notes on the Bill as passed in the House of Commons, and here is the Bill after the amendments. These links to debate and more debate on the amendments in the House of Lords bring up the Hansard text. The quality of speeches is excellent. This level of debate makes Canadian MP’s sound like trolls.
I like a passage from Lord Onslow’s speech:
I also suggest that, in the well-established case of a Shia cleric who ensured the conviction of a young girl, aged 18, for pre-marital sexual intercourse, he not only advocated her conviction but he also went and put the noose around her neck. I do not know about noble Lords, but I personally find that detestable. It is meet to be detested, and should be by every single person in this Chamber. What this Bill could do—although I am obviously open to correction—is to say that I could be prosecuted for saying that it was a detestable habit and that the man who did it was an odious human being. I would say that with intent, and mean every single word. I give that as one example.
At Second Reading, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that religion had actually been defined. Now there is, as we know through evidence of it, a religion involving witchcraft and the mutilation of small boys. Their torsos were thrown into the Thames. I know that these things are illegal, but it seems odd to me that I cannot hate them. I may have misinterpreted the Bill; I may have it all wrong. But I am advised that I have not. Can the Minister clear my mind, and either accept the amendment or something like it in whatever form the Bill takes? Or can she explain to me that there is no such provision in the Bill and that I am quite entitled to go on hating Shia clerics who pull the legs of young girls dangling in a noose outside Tehran?