Schedule 26 — Hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 6th May 2008.

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Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Solicitor General, Ministry of Justice 8:30 pm, 6th May 2008

The battles in the House historically between the Conservatives and the Liberals have always been about issues such as this, but when I see the House now, I see the massed ranks of the Conservative party on both sides. I am therefore not surprised that that is the Government's position.

There has always been a theoretical case for the separation of Church and state. It is in the US constitution, in the first amendment to it, and in the French statute of 1905 that separates Church and state. What I am talking about is a new factor. We are faced—not just internationally—with people who also have a theocratic view, which we find it difficult to argue against because of the vestiges of the admixture of Church and state in our own arrangements. If we are arguing against the use of blasphemy laws, for example, in Pakistan or in Iran, it is difficult for us to do that while we maintain in vestigial form, a form that is not used very often, the same sort of law in this country.