A proposed new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation has been backed by the main body representing British Jews.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that their community’s experience of prejudice was the reason they were supporting the government’s proposal.

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill was passed by the House of Commons last week and will now be discussed in the Lords.

Christian MPs objected to the homophobic incitement proposal and attempted to introduce an amendment allowing: “criticism of or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct relating to that orientation.”

It was overwhelmingly defeated.

Explaining their decision to support the proposed new law Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Jewish Chronicle:

“Our community has a long history of suffering on account of prejudice and hatred on the grounds of being Jewish.

“For this reason we abhor hatred and violence directed against other groups, however their lifestyles may be regarded by parts of our community.”

Justice minister Maria Eagle has said that religious will continue to have the right to express their homophobic views.

“If you are a preacher and on Sunday morning you tell your sermon of your beliefs and the beliefs of your denomination about gay people then that’s different to going and standing outside a gay club and using threatening words and behaviour,” she told PinkNews.co.uk

“The intent is the key. That is very clearly unacceptable and that’s where we are pitching the offence.”