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Peter Tatchell hails House of Lords’ decision to pass insults law amendment

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  1. Section 5 of the Public order act was the specific legislation used to prosecute about 5 people in my local area who all verbally abused me for being gay whilst in town on various incidents.

    Words such as “Gay boy” “faggot” etc. Clearly derogatory and discriminatory. And now I’m being informed this protection has been removed?

    Can someone please tell me if there is another law to protect me against verbal insults in the street?

    1. Paul from Brighton 13 Dec 2012, 3:48pm

      Nathan, the removal of the word insulting wouldn’t have any bearing on the situation you describe.

      S5 of the Public Order Act currently makes it an offense for anyone in public to cause insult, harass, alarm or distress anyone, or anyone of any reasonable firmness who would be likely to be insulted, harassed, alarmed or distressed.

      In the situation you describe you were harassed, not insulted.

      The removal of the word ‘insulting’ would mean that the police and Crown Prosecution Service cannot use this for some of the ridiculous cases they’ve brought before the courts.

      It still allows for anyone harassed or threatened to be arrested and prosecuted.

      1. That is re-assuring, thank you.

      2. What if it’s not prolonged, repeat harassment from one person or one group of people, but a single threatening, racist or homophobic diatribe from one person?

        Was aggressive racist scumbag Emma West (Section 5 offender) merely guilty of ‘insult’?

        1. Paul in Brighton 13 Dec 2012, 7:35pm

          Doesn’t need to be prolonged, a single act is all that is necessary and there need not be a specific victim, only a likelhood that a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ would be – harrassed, alarmed, distressed etc.

          The reason the CPS have always relied on S5 as their preferred choice of offence on which to charge is that S5 can only be tried in the Magistrates Court. It’s the lower of all the Public Order offences.

          Thus you get instances where some people are charged with what appears to be a lesser offence when a more serious public order offence would appear to be more appropriate.

          However, if you go to the next level – S4 – Threatening behaviour – this can be tried either way, which means that the alleged offender can opt for either trial at Magistrates Court or trial at Crown Court.

          Therefore, the CPS often go with the lower offence of S5 as it is more likely they will secure a conviction as opposed risk facing a jury where lay people have to be satisfied of the offenders guilt.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 13 Dec 2012, 3:29pm

    Well then, this will of course allow us to continue calling religious nutters ‘bigots’ with impunity as well as insult them just as much as they insult us including their respective religious denominations. Fair enough! They’ll be the first to scream abuse of religious freedom once they get a dose of their own medicine knowing they won’t be able to do a thing about it. Another case of being careful what you wish for. I totally support the amendment, good or bad.

    1. To right and I intend to dish it out, in a polite way. Of course, one should not loose ones dignity :-)

  3. Hurrah, a rare victory for common sense that will undoubtedly go down like a cup of cold sick among the bleeding heart thought police who monitor these boards.

  4. Paul from Brighton 13 Dec 2012, 3:54pm

    Of course, this won’t stop the police acting as they want as ultimately all they have to do is arrest you for Breach of the Peace, or behavoiur likely to cause a Breach of the Peace.

    With BOP, of course, you won’t get a criminal conviction, per sae, but either be no further actioned when the risk of you causing a breach of peace has ended, or, if you’re taken to court, you’d be ‘bound over to keep the Queen’s peace,’ usually for the sum of £50. So if you get nicked again for BOP, you get a £50 fine.

    I wouldn’t be as delighted as Peter Tatchell is with this one as ultimately, the Breach of the Peace has been more relied on as he probably knows only too well himself being a protester.

    Rarely if ever do the police arrest protesters for S5 of the Public Order Act, it’s more BOP.

    Personally I’d like to see Breach of the Peace done away with as it’s a crime against the establishment as opposed to a particular victim.

  5. Om my, it’s open season on all the idiots out there, we can safely tell call them stupid without worry. Street preachers has better beware. I feel no shame in who I am and can tell these fools what I think now.

  6. I respect Peter Tatchell’s work but do we really need to read about everything he says about what’s going on in the news? More often than not, PN doesn’t report on the news anymore, only on Peter Tatchell’s reaction to the news.

  7. Peter Tatchell, you see, is such a fierce, uncompromising opponent of censorship, even when no actual state censorship is taking place and turns out to be a manager exercising their discretion to protect vulnerable people (the demotion of a homophobic worker at a social housing agency).

    That’s why he is adding his name to the Libel reform campaign to make it harder for rich, powerful bullies to gag anybody who criticises them and cap damages claims at £10,000. Because we all know freedom from insult is not freedom, don’t we Peter? Oh wait, my mistake.

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