Peter Tatchell has welcomed the House of Lords’ decision to pass an amendment to remove the word “insulting” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act – which in the past has been used by lawyers to prosecute homophobic religious preachers and gay rights activists alike.
Earlier in the week, Mr Tatchell took part in a demonstration outside the Home Office where he was dressed as a policeman, along with a man dressed as a horse.
Mr Tatchell said the act had previously been used against a student who joked that a police horse was gay, a pensioner who said that religious beliefs were fairy stories and a street preacher who criticised homosexuality as immoral.
The House of Lords last night voted 150-54 to amend Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 to end the criminalisation of insults.
In response, Mr Tatchell said: “This is a sweeping victory for free speech and civil liberties. It is all the more significant given the disgraceful opposition to reform by the Labour and Conservative front benches.”
The amendment will now go to the House of Commons.
Last week, the Director of Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) supported reform of the act.