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Landmark Free Speech Victory Confirmed

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Issued by Andrea Minichiello Williams, Barrister and Executive Director The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON).

Press Release

For Immediate Release

12th November 2009, 14:00

Landmark Free Speech Victory Confirmed

 

Key facts for background

Last night, 11 November 2009, the Upper Chamber debated, yet again, the Coroners and Justice Bill and specifically the vital question of the potential removal of the free-speech provision (1). This was the fourth time in less than a year the Lords had been asked by the House of Commons to remove democratically passed legislation, passed only just over a year ago, which serves as a guarantee of protection for peaceful free speech on the subject of sexual ethics, and assists the police by providing clarity about cases where no investigation is necessary or desirable.

Statement begins

Andrea Williams, Barrister and Executive Director of The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON) said today:

‘Thankfully for reasonable people of all religions and none, the Lords stood firm and rejected the Government’s attempt to impose its will in what has become a remarkable battle of attrition. News has just broken that the Government is now to accept the House of Lords’ will on this rather than return it once again to the Upper Chamber. The Waddington provision will stand and the freedom to speak peacefully about sexual ethics is upheld.

‘Views on the question of sexual practice in modern Britain vary. The view of millions of Christians and others in Britain is that sexual activity outside of marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is something that should be examined, discussed and where necessary, criticised. For some, the desirability of questioning unrestrained sexual activity is based on a deeply-held position of faith. For others it is based on a reasonable concern for social implications without reference to any revealed religious text.

Last night’s result in the Lords, and today’s decision by the House of Commons to finally respect that settled will, is a victory that all should celebrate because whatever our view on sexual ethics, a defeat would have signalled the loss of a centuries-old freedom to express a genuinely-held view or concern.

No reasonable person supports the incitement of hatred. Such a thing is profoundly abhorrent and in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Lord Waddington’s provision was never about protecting those who incite hatred. It is about defending the principle of peaceable free speech. On that basis, reasonable people today can join together and celebrate. Thanks to the steadfastness of the Upper Chamber the vital democratic right to free speech was upheld, the police will have clarity about cases they do not need to investigate and ordinary, peaceful Christians and others who wish to be free to express views on sexual ethics will not have their freedom so to do unreasonably interfered with’.

1 Inserted by Lord Waddington into the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008

ENDS

Contact

Andrea Minichiello Williams

andrea@christianlegalcentre.com

07712 591164

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