"Insulting Speech Laws" Cause Legal Problems for Christians

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: May 21, 2013

According to section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, it is criminal offence to use “insulting words or behaviour” which is “likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.” Originally enacted to combat football hooliganism, this provision has led to the arrest and prosecution of many Christian street preachers in recent years.

For example, in 2008 Anthony Rollins was arrested for expressing his Christian belief that homosexual conduct is morally wrong and in 2010 another preacher, Dale McAlpine, was arrested and spent seven hours in a police cell. While charges were eventually dropped against both preachers, others have been forced to go to court to clear their name, and some have even been convicted. Pro-life campaigners have also been prosecuted for holding a demonstration outside an abortion facility and in 2009 a Christian couple was prosecuted for “hate speech” for allegedly insulting a Muslim during a private conversation. A campaign has now been launched against the “hate speech” law. Source and further information: The Observatory's Report 2012 on Legal Restrictions Effecting Christians in Europe