Christopher Biggins: ‘Anti-gay hate laws will create a new climate of fear’
Gay actor Christopher Biggins has criticised legislation which will criminalise language which could offend gays and lesbians.
Writing in the Daily Mail, the veteran star argued that gay lifestyles could not be treated as normal if “special treatment” was demanded to “shield them from everyday humour”.
Citing his well-known performances as Widow Twanky, he said that proposed law could lead actors to fall foul of the law.
Biggins said: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. New laws so often have unintended consequences, especially when they are introduced not to combat a genuine crime but to establish the state’s view of orthodox thinking.
“If this legal change really came into practice, there is no doubt it would create a new climate of fear, stifling creativity and restricting the scope for humour.”
He added: “Showbiz, camp theatrics and dazzling wit helped to pave the way for gay rights. They should be cherished, not suppressed.
“It is bitterly ironic that, in the name of tolerance, the government should be marching towards such a culture of intolerance.”
Last week, Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson warned a meeting at the House of Lords of creating a culture of “censoriousness” by removing free speech.
“I do not believe that legislation of such a censorious nature as that of hate speech, carrying as it does the risk of a seven-year jail sentence for saying the wrong thing in the wrong way, can ever by justified merely by the desire to ‘send the right message’,” he said.
Currently, a free speech clause inserted into laws banning inciting hatred on the ground of sexual orientation protects those such as comedians.
The Coroners and Justice Bill is being used to remove the clause added by Parliament in May last year. Although an amendment to keep the clause may be voted on in the Commons this week, the matter is likely to progress to the House of Lords.