Schedule 26 — Hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 6th May 2008.

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Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe Conservative, Maidstone and The Weald 8:45 pm, 6th May 2008

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in due course—if I do not, I am sure he will remind me.

As I said in an earlier debate in this House, I am entirely in favour of free speech. My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East would say to me that Christ was not God. That is not blasphemy, but an expression of religious opinion. However, if he were to do something completely different—to mock, to ridicule and to use, in the most horrible fashion, the person of Jesus Christ—that would be a direct assault on me as a Christian. What a lot of people fail to understand about blasphemy is that it hurts deeply and is deeply offensive. The reason the Muslim community got so worked up about those cartoons was that they did not mock Muslims—they mocked the Prophet. None of us would get worried about Christians being mocked, but when Christ is mocked, that is different. Most of us feel that with the way society is going, it is very unlikely that, out of good manners alone, if there were no final legal hurdle, Christians would be protected from that type of insult.