Attorney General backs homophobic incitement law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Baroness Scotland has responded to reports that she does not support a new offence to incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Speaking at a pre-launch event for LGBT History Month 2008 last night, the Attorney General said she fully expected the proposed amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill will become law, but pointed out the “appropriately high threshold set by criminal prosecutions of this nature.”

The Times reported yesterday that Baroness Scotland had expressed private doubts about the legislation and believed that existing legislation is sufficient to deal with the problem.

At last night’s event, held in the Royal Courts of Justice, she spoke about the series of gay rights measures the government has passed since 1997.

“The government is currently taking forward a proposal … to introduce an offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation,” she said.

“I want to make clear that I fully expect that legislation to succeed, and I fully expect that we will see it on the statute books.

“I know this is a sensitive and challenging area in which to legislate, balancing the important right to free speech and the important issue of protecting vulnerable communities, and dealing with the menace of hate speech.

“We must of course recognise the appropriately high threshold set by criminal prosecutions of this nature. “

She added that the Crown Prosecution Service “will not lack vigour” in bringing people to trial for inciting hatred against gay people.

The Attorney General is the government’s leading law officer.