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Christian politicians want law change to allow abusive preaching

Cross-party Christian committee complains religion is ‘being squeezed’ by equality
Houses of Parliament as seen from Lambeth Palace, official seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Photo by Riaz Shah.

British Christian MPs and members of the House of Lords complain that their religious freedoms are being eroded in a new report out today (27 February).

They also want a change to laws which prevent insulting and abusive hate speech.

But the UK’s top lesbian, gay and bisexual rights group, Stonewall, has said the people involved are just not adjusting to the modern world.

The report by a cross-party group of British parliamentarians claims there are ‘fundamental problems’ with the 20109 Equality Act and failures of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to protect religion, ‘while privileging the rights of other groups’.

To reach its conclusion that Christianity is ‘being squeezed’ out of public life it took evidence from more than 50, mostly Christian, organisations.

Gary Streeter MP, chair of the committee, said: ‘Of course Christians should obey the law, but the law should reflect the positive contribution the Christian faith has made to the heritage of this country and also respect the sincerely held beliefs of mainstream Christians.’

In particular the report attacks section five of the 1986 Public Order Act that prevents threatening, abusive or insulting behavior and commentary, which could include homophobic and transphobic hate. It calls for the law to be changed so preaching is exempted from this.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘Sadly religion is still used too often as a cloak for prejudice. This report seems to come from a group of uniquely advantaged people having trouble adjusting to 21st-century equal rights.’

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