Hereditary peers tip balance on “gay hate” law

44 hereditary peers were among 179 Lords voting to retain a "free speech" amendment on new laws against inciting gay hate. Labour & Lib Dems peers also voted.

44 hereditary peers were among 179 Lords to vote last night to retain a “free speech” amendment on new laws against inciting homophobic hatred – the precise difference between ‘contents’ and ‘not contents’. 14 Labour and 4 Liberal Democrat peers also voted for the amendment.

On Monday, MPs voted by 342 to 145 to defeat Lord Waddington’s amendment, which activists believe would provide a loophole for those inciting violence on homosexuals. But last night Lords voted by 179 to 135 to retain the clause. Jonathan Finney, head of external affairs at Stonewall, told Left Foot Forward:

“Stonewall’s concern is that the House of Lords insistence on retaining the Waddington clause sends a worrying message just when homophobic attacks are on the increase. The tone of Lord Waddington’s unnecessary amendment is offensive and stigmatising. Furthermore, an exemption of this kind risks allowing some people to seek to evade rightful prosecution for stirring up anti-gay hatred. Having long campaigned for incitement protections we’ll be pressing the Government to implement these necessary and important measures as soon as possible.”

In the debate last night, Lord Chris Smith said:

“If the signal that the House sends is that it is all right to be intolerant, I fear that we will end up seeing more violence and more attacks and more difficulty for people simply because of their sexual orientation.”

Explaining the provisions in the bill to MPs on Monday, Justice minister Claire Ward said, “In order to fall foul of the bill, the person’s words would have to be threatening and their behaviour intended to stir up hatred.”

UPDATE 10.23, 13/11

You can see the roll-call vote here.

14 Responses to “Hereditary peers tip balance on “gay hate” law”

  1. Jessica Asato

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  2. Luke Pollard

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  3. Nick Pringle

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  4. Wes Streeting

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  5. James Asser

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  6. LGBT Labour

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  7. Chris Paul

    RT @wesstreeting RT @leftfootfwd 44 hered peers voted to water down gay hate law last night – enough to tip balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  8. Simon

    Hang on a minute. You cannot simply add up those who voted for the protection and who are in the HoL as hereditary members and ‘pin the blame’ on them. That is not how democracy works – as you well know.

    The Government failed to make a sufficiently strong case as to why the original version of the provision should be passed by the HoL.

    So blame the Government for not drafting it properly, blame the HoL whips for not drilling enough Labour peers (of which there are more than enough to have carried the day

    This was a badly drafted clause that would have made the law unworkable and not offered the protection that the Justice Department wanted.

    Are you upset that your father has been defeated Mr Straw?

  9. David Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  10. Emma Burnell

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  11. Gordon's dad

    You just don’t care about free speech, do you? This proposed law is the intellectual equivalent of excessive health and safety regulation: the application of the precautionary principle to the exchange of ideas.

    The Labour Party no longer seems to have a liberal bone in its body.

  12. Tobin Webb

    RT @leftfootfwd 44 hereditary peers voted to water down the gay hate law last night – enough to tip the balance http://bit.ly/FMi1Q

  13. JPFX

    And how many Bishops voted to retain this “free speech” amendment?

  14. willstraw

    Simon – Labour’s main failure here is to get rid of the hereditary peers – we have an absolutely archaic form of democracy in the 2nd chamber. Fair points on the lack of a strong case and whipping. But, no, I’m not upset that my father was defeated; I’m upset that gays and lesbians don’t have an important protection which is afforded to other minority groups.

    Gordon’s dad – I care about liberty and derive my views from Mill’s harm principle (“That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others”). Individuals, in my view, should not have the right to incite violence against others. In this instance, Isaiah Berlin’s principle of negative liberty (Freedom of speech) comes up against positive liberty (freedom from harm) and I happen to fall in favour of the latter.

    JPFX – There were three. We’re putting up the roll call as a googledoc in the next few mins.

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