Orders of the Day — Racial and Religious Hatred Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 21st June 2005.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary 4:19 pm, 21st June 2005

Yes, you can. I shall come to that part of my speech in a second, but I want to deal with the question of the law in the state of Victoria now, because other people have also raised the matter with me. I have said to many people, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to say to the House, that that legislation is not the same as what is proposed in the Bill. I have briefed myself carefully on this because I was aware of the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

Not only is the legal system in Victoria not the same as ours, but there are huge differences between section 8 of Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and our proposals. Section 8 makes it an offence for a person to engage in conduct which incites not only hatred against, but also

"serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of" another person or class of persons on the ground of religious belief or activity. That definition of words is massively wider than what we are proposing in the Bill. Additionally, the Victorian law prohibits incitement to serious contempt, severe ridicule and so on, of a religion itself, whereas the offence that I am proposing in this speech prohibits incitement to hatred of those who belong to the religion. So the threshold for the incitement to religious hatred that we propose is substantially higher than the one in Victoria; a comparison simply cannot be made between the two.