OutRage! is proposing an amendment to the Crime & Disorder Bill that would extend the tough new penalties for race hate crimes to crimes of prejudice against homosexuals and religious believers.
The amendment, to Section 68 of the Bill, will be tabled by MP’s in the Committee stage, with cross-party support.
Sections 22-26 and 68 of the Bill empower the courts to impose harsher sentences on those convicted of crimes against ethnic minorities, where there is evidence that the crime was motivated by race hatred.
The OutRage! amendment, drafted by Peter Tatchell, would also introduce tougher sentences in cases of hate-inspired attacks on people because of their homosexuality or religion.
“We believe that all hate crimes should be treated with equal severity”, said Huw Williams.
“As well as cracking down on racial violence, the law also needs to come down heavily on the perpetrators of prejudice-motivated assaults on religious and sexual minorities”.
Whilst OutRage! is opposing crimes of prejudice against people of faith, religious supporters in the House of Lords recently succeeded in amending the Human Rights Bill to exempt religious institutions from the Bill’s anti-discrimination provisions. This will allow religious authorities to continue to discriminate against lesbians and gay men.
“While OutRage! is campaigning to stop the victimisation of religious minorities, the churches are fighting to maintain the right to discriminate against homosexuals”, said Williams.
“We argue that ALL forms of prejudice are wrong, but religious leaders insist that denying equal treatment to gay people is right.
“Despite Christian, Muslim and Jewish opposition to homosexual human-rights, OutRage! will continue to support equality for people of all faiths and sexualities.”