Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act (2006) seeks to establish the crime of incitement of religious hatred while preserving freedom of expression.
It defines ‘religious hatred’ as ‘hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. And includes ‘acts intended to stir up religious hatred’.
Its definition of freedom of expression regarding religion is very wide and seeks to protect the freedom to express ‘antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions’ or the ‘beliefs or practices of their adherents’.
The question that needs to be tested by law is when does antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult and abuse cross the line and become incitement to religious hatred?
Common-sense would suggest that if these expressions were threatening and/or caused threatening or violent actions against religious believers then they would constitute incitement to religious hatred and acts of religious hatred.
If during the run up to the Holy Father’s visit, or during any of the papal events, you feel threatened, intimidated or discriminated against by the behaviour of protesters you shouldn’t remain silent or intimidated by the abuse.
It’s important that you register a complaint about hate crime with your local police force. Each police force will usually have an on-line form on their websites to record acts of hate crime. (For contact details about your local police force go to the ‘Police’ section of this website).
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act also includes broadcasters, the press and other forms of communication.
Likewise if during the run up to the Holy Father’s visit, or during any of the papal events, if you feel threatened, intimidated or discriminated against by a TV or radio programme, press coverage, web site or blog, its important that don’t just shrug it off as just another example of anti-Catholicism. Now you have the right to make a complaint to your local police force using their on-line system to report hate crime.
Why it’s important that we report hate crimes against us as Catholics?
Over the generations of persecution in this country we had to keep a low profile because we had no protection under the law, in fact the law was used to penalise us. Even now the Act of Succession holds that it is illegal for a member of the royal family to marry a Catholic.
However, since 2006 the law gives us the right to seek protection and redress for crimes of religious hate. We have the legal right to freedom of worship and freedom of religious belief without fear of threats, intimidation and discrimination.
We only truly have these freedoms if we use the laws that have been created to protect them. Information is power, so read the following excerpts and inform yourself about the law against religious hatred.
The Police define Hate Crime as follows, and encourage people to report it to them:
Hate crime and Incidents
A hate incident is where the victim or any other person perceives prejudice or hate to be based on someone’s
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
- gender or gender identity
Examples of hate crime
- physical attacks
- verbal abuse
- damage to property
- offensive letters, leaflets, emails and texts
- bullying and threats
- abusive gestures
Excerpts from the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
Meaning of religious hatred. “Religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. Acts intended to stir up religious hatred
Use of words or behaviour or display of written material.
A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, but not a dwelling.
A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he reasonably suspects is committing an offence under this section.
Publishing or distributing written material.
A person who publishes or distributes written material which is threatening is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
Public performance of play.
If a public performance of a play is given which involves the use of threatening words or behaviour, any person who presents or directs the performance is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
Distributing, showing or playing a recording.
A person who distributes, or shows or plays, a recording of visual images or sounds which are threatening is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
Broadcasting or including programme in programme service.
If a programme involving threatening visual images or sounds is included in a programme service, each of the persons mentioned in subsection (2) is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
(2)The persons are—
(a) the person providing the programme service,
(b) any person by whom the programme is produced or directed, and
(c) any person by whom offending words or behaviour are used.
Possession of inflammatory material.
A person who has in his possession written material which is threatening, or a recording of visual images or sounds which are threatening, with a view to
(a) in the case of written material, its being displayed, published, distributed, or included in a programme service whether by himself or another, or
(b) in the case of a recording, its being distributed, shown, played, or included in a programme service, whether by himself or another, is guilty of an offence if he intends religious hatred to be stirred up thereby.
(2) For this purpose regard shall be had to such display, publication, distribution, showing, playing, or inclusion in a programme service as he has, or it may reasonably be inferred that he has, in view.
Protection of freedom of expression.
Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.
Offences by corporations.
(1) Where a body corporate is guilty of an offence under this Part and it is shown that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body, or a person purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate is guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
(2) Where the affairs of a body corporate are managed by its members, subsection (1) applies in relation to the acts and defaults of a member in connection with his functions of management as it applies to a director.