The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is consulting on its policy regarding 'homophobic and transphobic hate crime'.
Unfortunately, whatever the intent of this policy, it undermines equality and limits freedom. It could have a draconian effect on any Christian who believes and upholds the Bible's teaching.
Having a separate category of crime for those experiencing sexual or gender-based confusion is not just, nor does it help the victims.
Street evangelist Mike Overd was convicted of a public order offence for using the 'wrong' Bible verse in public, when speaking about homosexuality. If the CPS follows through with this policy others like Mike could face prosecution.
We have published our response to the consultation, but one voice is not enough. We need to stand together to resist this flawed policy. Please tell the Crown Prosecution Service what you think by responding to the consultation.
We've put together some points which might help you work out what to say.
How to respond
1. Visit the CPS consultation webpage
2. Download and read the consultation document
3. Download the consultation response document
4. Complete the form by typing your answers in the spaces
5. Send an email to email@example.com, and attach your response
What to say
We have compiled a list of points which you might like to make in your own words:
- Motivation is an important element, and the criminal law recognises this through sentencing guidelines.
- These guidelines provide discretion for judges to consider the offender's intention when determining the type and length of the sentence.
- The guidelines mean that adding an additional hate element is superfluous.
- Doing so would be costly and would place further strain on the criminal system.
- The Rule of Law condemns instances in which power is exercised in an arbitrary or discretionary manner. Laws must thus meet the requirements of accessibility and foreseeability (see the statements in Hasan and Chaush v Bulgaria (2002) & Purdy v DPP (2009)).
- The CPS' policy falls short of these requirements.
- They fail to specify what constitutes 'stirring up hatred', and 'threatening', 'abusive' and 'insulting' are neither defined nor explained.
- 'Insulting' was removed from the Public Order Act 1986 because of the Police’s inability to apply the law sensibly.
- The policy is also contrary to Section 29J of the Public Order Act 1986, as well as numerous cases including Klein v Slovakia, Gündüz v Turkey & Percy v DPP which protect expression that is said to be shocking, offensive and disturbing.
- The criminal law should not be used as a tool to further social policy changes or societal values.
- True democratic freedom demands individual freedom. Conscience should be respected and unpopular views shared.
- The policy shows the CPS' narrow-minded understanding of the individuals affected by the policy. It also ignores the incursion on vital freedoms.
- Free speech is vitally important and should not be undermined.
- The CPS' policy will oppress Christian conscience, and potentially prevent Christians from entering specific professions. This is not in the public interest.
- Christian beliefs should be accommodated because its citizens are naturally imbued with the fundamental freedom to live out their religious beliefs.
- Religious freedom should not be acknowledged only when all others rights have been met.
- Forcing a Christian to acquiesce in the wishes of someone who identifies as being transgender has a detrimental effect on the Christian's conscience, which is protected under Article 9 ECHR.
- Of particular concern is the CPS' assertion that it is 'more important to prosecute the perpetrator of a more serious crime than someone who may have committed a more minor crime where the former is connected to the latter.'
- This is a policy statement made without a specific factual matrix, and affords the police excessive discretion.
- It also runs counter to the case of R v Metropolitan Commissioner, ex parte Blackburn (see quote).
- By mainstreaming the idea that the moral opposition to same-sex attraction is hateful, the CPS' policy further limits the freedom of parents to bring their children up in conformity with their own religious beliefs.
- Parents might be placed under increased pressure to affirm their child's 'new' gender, with failure to do so potentially resulting in Social Service intervention.
- By giving legal effect to the term 'gender identity', the policy also insufficiently protects women and children in private settings.
- Previous cases show how the prosecuting authorities often misapply the law in instances of alleged hate crimes (see Mike Overd, Rob Hughes, Tony Miano, Anthony Rollins, Dale Mcalpine & Miguel Hayworth.
- There are other instances in which Christians have lost their jobs after making comments which may be considered 'hateful', though the courts have later ruled in their favour (see Victoria Allen, Sarah Mbuyi & Margaret Jones).