It was announced on the 25th of September that the UK government has scrapped a bill that was being drafted to ban so-called "conversion therapy", which would have endangered Freedom of Speech. "Conversion therapy" bans are controversial because there is no clear definition of what "conversion therapy" is, which can lead to the term being used to criminalize private conversations or even private prayer between consenting adults, therefore limiting fundamental freedoms.
The Home Secretary of the UK has now clarified that “silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful” in a letter for the police forces across the country. This statement comes in response to many months of controversy over "buffer zones" outside abortion facilities that have led to the arrest of several citizens for praying silently in their minds inside a buffer zone.
Felix Ngole, a Christian social worker, had a job offer by Touchstone Support withdrawn after the company found out that he won a free speech case over his Christian views. He says: “The reasons they gave for withdrawing the job offer were an attack on me and my faith." Ngole is now taking Touchstone to an employment tribunal.
The New Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales has published a new Trans Equality Statement that defines forms of abuse towards trans victims, including "withholding money for transitioning", "refusing to use their preferred name or pronoun" or "Body shaming or criticising the victim for not being 'a real man/woman' if they have not undergone reassignment surgery." It also states that these actions can be considered as domestic abuse by family members and partners. Therefore, the CPS guidance makes parents vulnerable to prosecution, if they do not agree with transgender children.
On the 28th of June, 2023, the UK government voted to introduce a new mandatory curriculum on sex and abortion in Northern Ireland, which includes education on the prevention of early pregnancy and how to access an abortion. This legislation has met with worry about the freedom of conscience and religion in Northern Ireland. Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: "This legislation will likely put teachers and parents who oppose abortion in a very difficult situation.”
On May 23rd, a ruling by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) in the UK banned Christian Joshua Sutcliffe from teaching altogether, after he failed to treat his pupils "with dignity and respect" by misgendering a transgender boy. This case is the first of its kind in the UK and has become international news. It goes back to 2017, when the former maths teacher at the Cherwell School in Oxford, said "well done girls" to a group of girls, where one was a transgender boy - and he later apologized. Sutcliffe was later also accused of inappropriately sharing his Christian beliefs.
A 21-year-old British man, Edward Little, has pleaded guilty to preparing to commit acts of terrorism in an attack against the evangelist Hatun Tash in 2022. Little was found carrying £5,000, with which he planned to buy a firearm to kill Hatun Tash at the Speaker's Corner, a place for public debates where she frequently debates and preaches. He refused the allegations at first, but on the 19. May 2023 he admitted to planning the murder back on 23. September 2022.
A teacher in Wales, Ben Dybowski, was encouraged to express his Christian beliefs at a seminar and was subsequently fired for "hate speech." The teacher was prompted to share his opinions during a mandatory training session organised by the charity Diverse Cymru to instruct teachers on "workforce diversity practice, unconscious bias and gender awareness." He later commented that: "We were told it was a safe space and encouraged to speak freely."
A Christian primary school teacher who questioned Stonewall and Mermaids' recommendations to support a "gender transition" of an 8-year-old student without providing any supporting medical data has lost her job and is the subject of numerous regulatory body inquiries. She is being supported by the organisation Christian Concern to contest against her dismissal due to discrimination based on her religion.
Between April 17. and 22., the St Michael's Church in Beccles was vandalised. Perpetrators caused damage to the masonry, to the stonework, including to the patio terrace slabs, and safety fences were moved. The Suffolk police was informed and are looking for the perpetrators.
Over three nights on April 12, 13, and 14, in Croydon, thirty gravestones have been destroyed with a sledgehammer - some graves were dating back 500 years, at a Grade I listed church. «The church is appealing for witnesses along with police who are trying to find out who took a sledgehammer to the graves. »
On the 19. March at night, burglars stole valuable silver items in a church from a rural parish in East Devon in Sidmouth. The police are looking for witnesses. On Twitter, pictures show that the objects were chalices, host holders and other tools for the celebration of Mass.
A new code of practice on Non-Crime Hate Incidents (NCHI) introduced to UK Parliament in March clarifyies that simply causing offence is not enough to justify the police including someone's personal information in an NCHI. This comes in opposition to previous NCHI measures that unlawfully interfered with free speech. For example when the Police logged the personal details of a person in a NCHI record after receiving a complaint about a ‘transphobic’ tweet. This user, Harry Miller, appealed and won the case.
As reported by The Telegraph and the Christian Institute, Girlguiding, the UK's national guiding organisation for girls, has come under pressure and criticism after it published a blog post in which the organization argued that in order to make some of its traditional songs "inclusive for everyone," they need be changed to remove "references that have been hurtful to people." Using as an example a song in which references to God were removed.
On 7 March the House of Commons voted to comprehensively introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics to the Public Order Bill for the final time. The clause to the bill was approved by a majority of 299 MPs in favor to 116 against. Now that the Public Order Bill is set to become law, any form of "influence" around abortion clinics will be criminalised, including silent prayer or consensual conversations, de facto making "thought crime" a reality in the UK. Experts have commented that while harassment and intimidation are already illegal, this law would be a serious attack on freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
Rev Dr. Bernard Randall, the former Trent College chaplain in Derbyshire, has lost his unfair dismissal appeal. He was dismissed and reported to a terrorist watchdog after holding a sermon in which he encouraged students to feel free to make up their own opinions regarding the school's initiative to promote LGBT workshops. Even though Rev. Bernard expressed himself respectfully and calmly, he was also blacklisted as a safeguarding risk to children by the Church of England (CofE).
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce had been arrested and charged with violating protest policy near an abortion center, as she was standing on the street and praying in her thoughts. UK authorities have now dropped the charges against her, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) warned that charges could start again in a near future. Vaughan-Spruce has said she wants to seek a clear verdict in court.
The NGO ADF UK posted a video of two community safety accredited officers in Bournemouth interrogating a veteran who was standing on the street alone, praying in his thoughts. The officers told Adam Smith-Connor that he was praying inside a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) space, for which he was fined. According to the PSPO, certain activities such as acts of "disapproval" towards the abortion facility in the area are prohibited. Adam is at least the second person who was fined for praying silently on the street. He told the officers he was praying for his deceased son, which they considered an "act of disapproval."
An unexpected shooting occurred in North London on January 14. at the St Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. The 22-year-old suspect drove and shot 6 people who were coming out of a memorial service inside the church. The victims were a 48-year-old who has severe life-threatening injuries; a 12, 21, 41, and 54-year-old. A 7-year-old girl was also injured and was in serious condition. The police department detained the suspect for questioning after his car was found parked on Sunday. It was also mentioned that the bullets came from a black Toyota C-HR.
At around 3.45 p.m. on the 29th of December, the St Peter’s Church door was busted open by teenagers. Once inside, they damaged a cross, a statue and candles. The suspects are four boys and four girls who were seen by residents running away from the church with dark clothes on and heading toward Claydon High School. The faces are yet to be identified but the police are asking for any cam footage from cars that were there parked near the scene.