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UK parliament to consider making online homophobia illegal

UK parliament to consider making online homophobia illegal

Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK will debate whether to make online homophobia a specific criminal offence.

MPs will debate the issue on 1 July after a petition to them received more than 152,000 signatures.

Reality TV star, Bobby Norris, started the petition after years of online abuse. The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) star urged parliament to act.

‘As a gay man I find it devastating how members of the LGBT community are still subjected to homophobic abuse online,’ he said.

‘Just because I am on TV I don’t think that makes it acceptable to be sent homophobic messages and comments on social media platforms.

‘Nobody should have to receive these comments.’

Daniel Zeichner MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate on Monday. MPs will have the chance to question a government minister directly about the issue.

The British Government said it ‘recognized the harm that homophobic online messages can cause’.

‘We are working cross-Government to challenge inequality and make the UK’s online environment a safer place for everyone,’ it said in a statement.

Norris said homophobic trolling affected his mental health.

‘I won’t go into detail as to the various names I have been called, but this should not be acceptable and can have an impact on people’s mental health and has certainly helped in making my anxiety and low self-esteem worse by receiving them,’ he said.

In January, the Petitions Committee published its report into online abuse and the experience of disabled people. It found current laws are not fit for purpose.