I hope that the Government will not feel disposed to accept the amendment. I support the Bill as it stands because there is, regrettably, a great deal of homophobia. I have received a number of letters, as I am sure all Members of the Committee have, about this section of the Bill. I received a letter from a woman yesterday in which she described how her son had been shadowed and eventually kicked to death. Everybody concerned, including the police, agreed that it was because of his sexual orientation. That is clearly unacceptable. It is unacceptable that people should be put in fear of their lives because of their sexual orientation.
I do not support the wording of the amendment. The last sentence in particular—
"urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct related to that orientation"— seems to run against the established law in this country, which allows people to have civil partnerships. It is their right by law to have civil partnerships, but under the wording of the amendment it would be perfectly all right to urge them—perhaps even threaten them—that they should not participate in one.
You cannot describe this situation in terms of the provisions on religious hatred. We are in a different environment here. We are not talking about a belief, but a state in which people have a certain sexual orientation whether they want it or not: that is what they are like. That is why they ought to have protection and be able to live their lives in accordance with what the law has laid down and made arrangements for.
I understand what has been said about freedom of speech. If I were to choose between the two amendments, I would prefer that of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, which seems very reasonable. This one, however, I do not accept at all. It contains a threat, particularly in the last sentence, which the Government should not be prepared to accept. The Bill as it stands should be supported because it attempts to deal with a genuine problem and give protection to those who deserve it. They do not deserve to be harassed and threatened. I therefore hope that the Government will not be prepared to accept the amendment.