I hadn't heard of this. Its been swamped out of the news by Live 8 etc.
Apparently this is one of those Bills, like the one about fox hunting, where the UK Labour Government has a determination and the methods to push it through irrespective of whether the House Of Lords approves it or not.
I'm all for the principle behind it - making it illegal to hold meetings designed to stir up religious hatred, but the crucial word there 'designed' does not appear in the Bill at all.
Rather, the House of Lords is today being asked to pass the Bill when it says things such as:
Section 23, subsection 1A:
This subsection applies if, having regard to all the circumstances, the material or recording is likely to be seen or heard by any person in whom it is likely to stir up racial or religious hatred.”
So what does that mean? You can bet your sweet life that some of the lefty Councils (the ones who like to ban the Union Jack or Christmas Carols for fear of offence) will take this as carte blanche to ban ANY public expression of religious faith.
Not because a bunch of little old ladies with tambourines, for example, or Brownies on church parade, might inspire each other to hurt the unbelievers, but because the sight of them congregated might 'cause offence' and make someone of a different faith want to hurt them.
The Bill won't just cover events where the religious speaker actually wants to cause segregation, but those where it is seen or heard by any person in whom it is likely to stir up racial or religious hatred.
It works both ways; even peaceful reading of the Koran or an Eid parade could be banned in case it makes skinheads/NF want to cause trouble.
Its more lunacy from the Party that banned Bah Bah Black Sheep in schools and banned the sale of black or white coffee in their own local Council buildings on the basis that it might offend 'white' people who aren't actually white and 'black' people who aren't actually black. Give it a break, guys; if you want to get picky we are all shades of pork sausage, from raw to high grill. Me, I've got freckles, so I'm a mongrel. Woof. Get over it.
Once the concept is embedded, however, they will be after crosses, turbans and saris under the same incitement principles - wait and see.