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Opinion: Why anti-gay hate laws are necessary

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  1. Ian Laughlin 24 Mar 2009, 5:14pm

    Thank you Jessica – a well reasoned argument. Increasingly shrill heterosexual extremists are screeching about their “freedom of speech” over this issue with monotonous regularity. Quite apart from the fact that absolute free speech has always been a myth – expression being moderated by custom, response, and law throughout human history – it is depressingly telling that nearly all of those who harp on about the supposed threat to freedom of speech subscribe to anti-gay conspiracy theories about “special rights”, or live in a liberal wonderland where there are never consequences to attacks. In the real world, however, where cyber-bullying takes youngsters lives (whatever their sexual orientation), and where gay and lesbian people are targetted by thugs, the price for their much vaunted “free speech” is paid for in suffering and misery.

  2. Brian Burton 24 Mar 2009, 5:38pm

    Each man and woman lived their own life and paid the price for living it. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. One has to pay over and over again, indeed. In her dealings with man, Destiny never closed her accounts.

  3. I’m sorry, I so disagree with this. We have totally adequate statutes that cover crimes involving attacks on people and property, along with others covering verbal abuse and assault. Why should there be any need to apply what is effectively a “minority tarrif” on top?

    The motive for any crime is essentially irrelavant, whether you beat up a little old lady, a burly man, a rasta or an effeminate teenager has nothing to do with it; you should be charged the same charge irrespective of who the victim was, or why you did it.

    The downside of all this nannying and protectionism is that anybody could be accused of a “hate-crime” when there were other reasons. There are many occasions I would have liked to slap a little queen, but not through any homophobic motive. Everyone screams EQUALITY!! constantly, but as soon as we get it, it’s the old adage of wanting to be more equal than all the others.

  4. David North 24 Mar 2009, 6:07pm

    “There are many occasions I would have liked to slap a little queen”

    Irrelevant as to whether or not it was a little queeen or little hetero. Comment by RobN.

    What gives you the right to think you can go around “slapping” people that you don’t like.

    This is not equality. It’s civilised values.

  5. John Clark 24 Mar 2009, 7:32pm

    The differance between a “hate crime” and a crime is motivation.
    If a thug just assults someone for no reason of race/origion/religion/sexual orienttion (your equal opportunity thug ), then that is a common crime… But: If a thug “targets” their victim throught their “hatered” of some minority…. Then that is a “hate crime”.

    If a thug kicked a poor person to the ground, shouting… “You black bastard, you deserve to die!”. They would be prosecuted for a hate crime and rightly so…

    So what is different if they shout “You gay bastard, you deserve to die!”.


    This is not a case of “special rights”; but a case of “equal rights”.

    There is also a fine line between comedy and hatered; when does comedy become hatered?

    I don’t know, every case must be judged on its own merits….
    Someone on a public stage, telling gay jokes, may be offensive; but, two gays in a bar swapping the same jokes may not be…
    When does “offensive” become “hatered”?

    Aye: There’s the rub!

    Freedom of speech against the freedom to spout hatered…
    When does the former become the latter?
    A fine line, a very fine line!!!

  6. We need to strike a careful balance with hate laws and free speech. You do not win arguments by penalising those who disagree with you.

    There needs to be a strict definition of what constitutes a ‘hate-speech’. Saying that gay people should be executed (ie the Anjem Chauderys of this world), that all gay people are peadophiles or comparing homosexuality to bestiality and murder should be considered as a hate crime.

    However we should not be criminilising those who say that homosexuality is a sin and ‘a lifestyle-choice’, however unpleasant we find this. To do so would be to relinquish the moral high-ground and therefore accept that we have lost the argument that gay people deserve to be treated just like everyone else in society.

    The last few bastions in the UK of resistance to gay rights are to be found amongst an ever decreasing band of religious fundamentalists. It is precisely here where the gay community needs to win over the bulk of christians and muslims towards a more tolerant attitude, and isolating the few extremists. So far, in my opinion, this strategy has been a great success. However, if the hate laws went to far, it could undo decades of hard won gay rights and acceptance and become an enormous triumph for Stephen Green and his ever shrinking cohorts.

  7. RobN, the basis of hate crime law is about protecting the public, as most violent crimes are crimes of passion, with individual motivations personal to those involved, whereas hate crimes generally result from a generalised prejudice that places more people at risk.

    For example, if a person assaults another for personal reasons – like an argument between two acquaintances which descends into a fight – then that person does not pose a huge risk to the public, because it was a personal matter that resulted in violence. That person should be punished, but based on the individual motivations of the crime.

    However, if someone chooses to assault another based on an arbitrary factor, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, e.t.c., they pose a much greater risk to the public as anyone who that person is prejudiced against is a potential victim. Therefore, the justice system should protect communities and use harsher sentences.

    It should also be said that similar laws are already in place to protect religious communities, yet there hasn’t been any incidents of comedians being punished for making jokes about religion.

  8. Totally agree with this article and Andrew’s summing up above. Anyone can be a random victim of violent crime (where you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time), but I feel less safe walking down the street because I’m a lesbian than I would do if I was straight. This is because I deal with hassle and aggression on a pretty much daily basis solely because of my sexuality.
    Racism laws may not have eradicated racism, but they have reduced the acceptableness of it. Very few people would make a racist comment in public, but people have no fear in making a homophobic one.
    I don’t for one moment think that this law will be used against someone telling a harmless joke with no nasty intent. I’ve just read on the BBC that this law was passed without the amendment – and I’m very, very glad. Nobody should be persecuted because of who they are. If people are unable to understand this or have the empathy to practise it, then we need laws making that fact clear.
    And, no, I’m not a fan of the nanny state, but I consider this a basic human rights issue. We are not ‘being more equal than others’, RobN, in my opinion – we’re just being raised up to the same level of equality.

  9. Daryn McCombe 24 Mar 2009, 9:38pm

    Has anyone actually read the legislation? I have – the legislation is similar to that which currently protects ethnic minorities and those of faith. In the last 30 years less than 20 people have met the criteria to be charged under those laws! The BNP even manages to stay on the right side of anti racism laws. The threshold is extremely high for a successful prosecution.

    Lord Waddington – a former Tory Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher was very clever to call his amendment a ‘free speech’ amendment because it looks like any one wanting to remove his amendment wants to remove free speech. Nothing can be further from the truth!

    That amendment was nothing more than an attempt by Camerons Conservatives to wreck the protection that the govt was trying to give to LGBT people. It comepletely removes the protection because any person can now claim that they had a religious motivation for their words or action which led to incitement to homophobic hatred and therefore this makes it ok!

    Well I’m sorry – inciting people to homophobic hatred is never ok! As a christian I believe that people have the right to make their position of faith clear, but never in a way which compromises another persons inate value in the eyes of God.

    No one has the right to incite other people to *hate* (note how strong the emotion is) or be violent towards other people in a civilised society! Free speech is important but as the Noble Lord Bishop of Chester said in the House of Lords on 3 Mar 2008 “I entirely agree… about the importance of freedom of speech, but in any society free speech must be responsible speech, too; responsibility must be given an equal weighting.”

    The govt has done the right thing removing this clause as he amendment laid down by Lord Waddington was nothing more than an attempt to wreck the Governments attempt to give LGB people the smae protection from incitement to hatred as Jewish, Black and ethnic minorities enjoy.

  10. Steve Hammett 24 Mar 2009, 10:52pm

    Whilst I have misgivings on the free speech front, my real concern is the use of psuedoscience by religious groups to try to lend their animosity towards gays academic credence. Either their opinions are matters of faith of they are not. The use of pseudoscience clearly indicates that their agenda is to promote hatred. Whilst the church is quick to make strident demands about religious liberty they remained remarkably silent about the demands of the Polish conservative catholic priest, Fr. Rafal Trytek, who called for gays to be publicly burned at the stake not so long ago. Can you imagine the outcry if a homosexual called for Christians to be burned at the stake?

  11. stephen kay 25 Mar 2009, 12:25am

    IN RESPONSE TO COMMENT by RobN @ 17:55: We need “extra” laws because there are 2 crimes committed.The crime against the person then the crime against the community.Calling someone a nigger fag or woteva then assaulting/killing them is 2 crimes not one.It causes major problems between the communities…wars terrorism and hatred on a mass scale as a result.

  12. Iris: “We’re just being raised up to the same level of equality.”

    That just sums up my entire point. If you want to be equal, you have to accept equal terms. By John Clark’s logic, what happens if I attack someone screaming “Die you white, Anglo-Saxon, able-bodied, English heterosexual!!” ? What is all this crap about “Crime against the community”? Where the hell did that come from? I’m in a community of ONE. I expect anyone that committed a crime against me to be sentenced on the same grounds as anyone else. My first BF was Asian, Jewish *and* gay. Does that mean someone would get three times as much if they attacked him? Three communities affected?

    Why should being in a minority group affect the outcome? The crime is the crime. Commit it and be prepared for the consequences, irrespective of motive.

  13. sensibly common 25 Mar 2009, 11:07am

    @Ian M: I’m neither shrill, nor heterosexual, nor extremist. Yet I think this bill is unnecessary legislation.

    There are adequate protections already: an imam calling for the killing of gays (for example) is already inciting violence and can be punished for that.

    Are we talking about punishing people far more harshly because of what they said at the time of committing a crime? Is this because we want to make an example of people? In which case, what are your opinions on cutting people’s hands off for stealing; or killing them for murder?

    If the purpose of the bill is about hateful speech, then society already generally disapproves of such actions anyway. Such behaviour, although detestable, is shown to be so by the attitudes of society towards it. Don’t make people live in fear of saying the wrong thing. And remember, attitudes will not change because of the law. That takes time.

    Having said all that, it would probably mean Chris Moyles getting locked up. In which case I’m going to change my stance and fully support this law!

  14. sensibly common 25 Mar 2009, 11:15am

    also, I’d like to take this opportunity to call you all shrill homosexual extremists while I’m still allowed to.

    Thank you.

  15. RobN – the length of sentences is a different matter (you’d mentioned attacking old ladies in your first post) and I’d agree that they’re often unfair.
    And, yes, if you’d attacked someone specifically because he was white/straight, I’d expect that to be taken into consideration and I’d consider it a hate crime because you’d hunted out your victim because of his colour/sexuality – just as much as if the victim was black/gay.
    I do consider this ‘equal terms’, and if there was ever any ‘straight-bashing’, I’d be more than happy for legislation to be used to punish that too.
    In an ideal world none of this legislation would be necessary, but while people are victimised because of their sexuality, colour, disability or whatever then sadly it is. It’s not just the use of the legislation, it’s the message it sends to the ignorant in society. As I said, most people have got the message that racism is not acceptable and hopefully they’ll get the message that homophobia isn’t either (and neither’s ‘heterophobia’ – but I’ve never seen much of that because the majority is usually the ‘safe’ place to be that allows/encourages abuse of the minority).

  16. Commonly Sensible 25 Mar 2009, 11:50am

    I for one welcome our new shrill extremist homosexual overlords.

  17. Leaving aside the issue about whether we should have hate crimes or not (it’s been discussed much better in other posts), the other reason people – particularly comedians who revel in making off-colour jokes – are nervous about this law is that it has the potential to be a blanket excuse to prosecute anyone who says anything that someone, somewhere, might be offended by.

    In other words, people do not trust those in charge to judge whether whatever was said was done so in jest or done so to incite hatred. I’m not talking about violence – I’m talking about words. There are so many examples of prominent personas whose whole careers revolve around lampooning various minorities – look at Little Britain, Catherine Tate or Al Murray. Are the British truly like that? Not at all. Comedy involves exaggeration.

    Translate that to street level and you have ordinary people who say something in jest that someone, somewhere gets offended by. Should they be prosecuted? Of course not. It’s a joke. If you are offended, go elsewhere.

    What people are worried about it not the use of the law, but the abuse thereof. Or if not conscious abuse, the simple misapplication of it. Many people simply don’t trust “the authorities” to get it right, And fear persecution from the media –and through the media the general public – because they said something a bit controversial.

  18. As a deep-voiced homosexual overlord (!) I’d just like to point out that in philosophical circles, freedom of speech isn’t a cut-and-dried argument to say whatever you like regardless of the consequences.
    There are many caveats to it, the most famous of which is John Stuart Mill’s. Wikipedia sums it up thusly…
    “In “On Liberty” (1859) John Stuart Mill argued that “…there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered.” Mill argues that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment. However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”
    Anyhow, must go… I have some overlording to do in preparation for my exclusively gay state! So many plans…

  19. Just as there exist specific hate crimes around racism, such as:”racially aggravated assault or harassment or theft” etc:
    there needs to be specific homophobic or transphobic hate crimes,
    so uninformed judges cannot rule on the homophobic element/motivation, but a jury can.

  20. Har Davids 25 Mar 2009, 3:49pm

    The problem with these kind of laws is, as always, the definition: a joke is usually made at the expense of an individual or group, and for some people that joke can be construed as an insult, or incitement to hatred.

  21. The problem is not with the law – it is with the white, heterosexual judges who wont implement it!!!!!!

  22. Acoording to me, people are not anti-gay, they just ignore what is being gay all about. They only focus on sexual behaviours of gay people. But being gay is not and will never be only about what you do in your bedroom, being gay or straight.

    Anti-gay people are just people ignorant of the gay way of life, 24/7, they are not tolerant, they feel disturbed by their ignorance that make them raise weird situations, weird up to disgusting, even for most gays. But it’s so disgusting that they can’t discuss about it, they are aware of it, aware that gays may ask them: “What do you base that situation on ?”. Anti-gays won’t dare saying: “On my sole imagination”, they would be considered ridiculous and mocked.

    But anti-gays (like anybody else) will necessarily need to sweep out of his/her mind such a weird illusion. If not by words, then by violence: Physical violence or by words.

  23. Popsicle makes a good point. How many other similar laws has this government passed which were loosely defined in order to expand their scope beyond the original objective? This is but a stepping stone in a creeping agenda of thought control dressed up as political correctness, and we are in danger of being complicit in its spread by pushing ever harder for such authoritarian legislation. Unless this process is halted then there will come a day very soon when every human being – yes, including gays! – will have to process each individual word internally before daring to say anything, lest they be immediately handcuffed and dragged to the nearest nick by the thought police. All the other apparatus of a fully functional surveillance/police state are either in place or being implemented with haste. Perhaps people ought to be reading 1984 instead of blindly clamouring for such legislation…

  24. I find it odd that the concept of freedom of speech cancels itself out when such free speech oppresses the freedom of others. Most people do not have freedom of mind let alone speech. The concept of freedom to some is a game to play without much thought given to what freedom actually is. Most lawyers play the same game – the written word is not about true justice, it’s about who can best manipulate the those words. Judges that deny homophobic attacks are likely to be homophobes themselves. What great power they must feel to remove the root cause as to why a GLBT is murdered/bashed. It’s a manipulative slur against a minorities fight for equality. Sure people do beat the hell out of each other as a part of their life/crime. As people living in the community, we are vulnerable to such attacks …however….homophobic attacks are very different and to treat such attacks as equal to all crimes is very misguiding. The drive behind the violence is very different to just a random assault.

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