Furnish backs homophobic incitement law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Sir Elton John’s partner has spoken in support of a proposal to outlaw incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Film producer David Furnish, 45, also praised the tolerance of British society.

“I think any sort of hatred is unacceptable so yes, I support it,” he said.

In December 2005 Sir Elton and Mr Furnish became one of the first couples in England and Wales to have a civil partnership ceremony.

The new incitement law has drawn criticism from gay commentators and religious groups, while gay equality organisation Stonewall and the government insist that the scope of the proposed legislation has been widely misunderstood.

Peter Tatchell, writing on The Guardian website, said:

“Introducing legislation prohibiting the incitement of homophobic hatred seems a bit amiss when already-existing laws are not being enforced.

“All incitements to hatred should be treated with the same zero tolerance. But not, in my opinion, by means of criminal sanctions.”

In The Times Mathew Paris said the law threatens freedom of expression.

“Some groups may be so weak and fragile as to need the law’s protection from hateful speech,” he wrote

“I’d like to think we gays are no longer among them.”

A Stonewall spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the laws actually mean.

“It will not criminalise people being rude, it will not criminalise people being offensive.

“What it does criminalise is where people recklessly or deliberately incite hatred against gay people, which has a very high threshold.”

This would only cover comments such as those contained in a BNP leaflet claiming all homosexuals were also paedophiles.

“What we’re seeking to do is match existing laws for race which have been on the statute for twenty years and have not caused any difficulties whatsoever.

“It’s about making sure where minority groups are already protected, gay people are protected as well.”

In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk Justice minister Maria Eagle also defended the new legislation.

“It has not been our intention to outlaw people expressing their views, whether they be Christians or comedians, about the way other people live their lives,” she said.

“You can have protection against incitement to hatred and at the same time protect people’s right to express their free views.

“It’s a very important factor of our history and heritage, freedom of speech, and I hope we can do it right.”

The incitement to homophobic hatred legislation comes in the form of amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. MPs will continue discussing the bill in committee tomorrow.