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 Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 8:45 pm, 6th May 2008

I understand that case, and I believe that the point is well made. However, it is said time and again that our society is based on certain fundamental values—the Prime Minister speaks about the "values of our society" and our leader talks in a similar vein. If those words are to mean anything, they must ultimately depend on the spiritual foundations on which the values are based. If people on the other side of another religious divide happen to take the position that they would like the law of blasphemy to apply to their religion and not to the Christian religion, and we followed that route, it would effectively be a form of appeasement. Indeed, in the case of Choudhury in 1991, the divisional court confirmed that the offence of blasphemy is limited to Christianity and does not extend to other religions. In that case, Islam was the religion in question.

Let me revert to the Liberal Democrat spokesman's remarks. As I said in an intervention, in the matter of civil strife, which appears largely to have developed in the Jerry Springer case, I understand that the offence requires contemptuous and revolting behaviour, which would endanger society as a whole. That does not sit easily with the House of Lords case, which I mentioned earlier, of R. v. Lemon, in which the

"House of Lords held by three to two that it was sufficient for the prosecution to prove that blasphemous material had been published and not necessary to prove that the defendants intended to blaspheme... a blasphemous libel was material calculated to outrage and insult a Christian's religious feelings; it is not an element of the offence that the publication must lead to a breach of the peace."

In other words, in that House of Lords case, which as far I know still stands, precisely because it is a House of Lords case, the question of civil strife was not at the heart of the decision.

There is an irony in the situation, as we move further downhill towards a secularised society, which is what this is all about. Make no mistake; I wait with interest, but without any trepidation, to hear the words of Dr. Harris. I have heard him on many occasions. He is like a mirror image of Richard Dawkins in his advocacy of the secular society. I have no doubt that he will put a powerful case by his standards, but unfortunately it will not convince me.

The case that the hon. Gentleman and others who wish to secularise our society put is based on something completely different. The idea of spiritual and moral values in respect of religious conviction is alien to them. The solution in their kind of society is to secularise—to dumb down and to be not merely politically correct, but to repudiate and to oppose. That is atheism and secularisation run together.