Gay charity Stonewall has vowed to keep a close eye on the new Criminal Justice Bill announced today as the campaigners aim to have homophobic incitement added to the law.
The Queen’s speech at the state opening of Parliament today promised a Criminal Justice Bill with new powers to put victims at the centre of the law and order system.
A spokesman for Stonewall, which recently raised £10,000 of donations to campaign for a law against incitement of anti gay hatred, welcomed the announcement.
“We are pleased that there will be a new Criminal Justice Bill. Stonewall believes there should be an extension for the offence of incitement to homophobic hatred, so will be making the case for this and keeping an eye on th4e bill’s progress,” he told PinkNews.co.uk
It comes after a spate of murders in the gay community in the last year including Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common, Michael Fardon in Northampton and most recently 67-year-old Malcolm Bryan, who was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell in a block of flats in Portsmouth last month.
Additionally groups such as the BNP and Christian Voice have been vocal in their opposition towards gay rights.
A BNP spokesman recently told PinkNews.co.uk that homosexuality should not be promoted as equal to a straight lifestyle, he said: “The word gay means happy, we have no problem with being happy.
“Some unfortunate people suffer from homosexuality so we will just have to tolerate them. If I was one I would be ashamed and would remain celibate.”
The BNP has also voiced support for Christian Voice leader Stephen Green, who regularly appears with his group at gay events chanting anti gay slogans and avoided prosecution last week for using threatening behaviour at a recent Cardiff pride event.
Homophobic incitement is an issue recently raised by the Gay Police Association in a controversial advert which suggested that religious statements have in some cases led to homophobic incidents.
Gay campaigners have also expressed opposition to homophobic lyrics which appear to encourage killing gay people in songs by artists such as Buju Banton and Beenie Man.
Currently the Racial and Religious Hatred Act protects against incitement towards someone based on their race or religion.
However some sections of the community may be opposed to one section of the law which would ban the possession of online and printed porn depicting “scenes of extreme sexual violence,” a move opposed by some activists who claim the law is too vague and could lead to innocent people being prosecuted despite consenting to activities.
The controversial law has been put through consultation by the Home Office after a campaign from family and friends of Jane Longhurst who was murdered in 2003 by a violent porn addict.
Graham Coutts was convicted of her murder in 2004 after Ms Longhurst was found strangled to death a year previously in West Sussex, during the case jurors were told of his obsession with strangulation and websites dedicated to the fetish.
Under the government proposals, it would become an offence to possess pornographic images depicting scenes of extreme sexual violence and other obscene material punishable by up to three years in prison.
Louise Morris, a member of the bondage, domination and sadomasochistic (BDSM)
community, told PinkNews.co.uk: “I could well be an innocent victim of this new bill if it is made law.
“The government do not recognise an image as being that of consensual “play,” all they see is a crime that could and will create serious harm or death. They want to dictate what my sexuality is and how I should be doing things.
“I know that the gay community themselves had a battle with acceptance not so long ago, and you all fought it and gained a huge amount of respect from everyone because you are open, you showed that your sexuality was indeed yours.”
The bill will now be debated in the next parliamentary session.