It could be a criminal offence to publicly express the religious belief that homosexual practice is morally wrong. Christian ministers, evangelists, university CUs, writers and broadcasters, among others, could be affected.
Free speech involves the freedom to disagree with others but this proposed law could classify disagreement as hatred. Reasonable statements of Christian belief are often characterised as 'hatred' by people who strongly disagree with them. In a democratic society people should be free to express disagreement without fear of censure from the state.
Christians have already been subject to questioning and investigation by the police for legitimately expressing their views on homosexuality - even though no law yet exists. If a 'homophobic hatred' law is introduced, we would almost certainly see it being used against Christians.
It is already a criminal offence to intimidate or attack anyone. Inciting a crime against another person, for whatever reason, is also outlawed. In England and Wales crimes committed against a person because of their sexual orientation are already punished more heavily, because of the introduction of aggravated offences. There is no need for this law.
Homosexual campaigners cite the tragic case of Jody Dobrowski, a homosexual who was beaten to death by two convicted criminals. The thugs who killed Jody Dobrowski were mindless. An incitement offence would not have prevented the attack.
The law that is being sought would extend the existing 'Incitement to Racial Hatred' offence to cover homosexuality. But homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle. Many 'gay rights' activists would say that their sexual orientation is a choice, not a genetic characteristic.
The 'Incitement to Religious Hatred' law, which The Christian Institute campaigned heavily against, was eventually passed with a large number of protections for free speech. But the 'homophobic hatred' law proposed by gay rights groups would be an extension of the original 'Incitement to Racial Hatred' law, so it would carry no protections for free speech and religious liberties.
This law carries a maximum 7 year prison sentence. In Sweden, a pastor who preached a calm sermon against homosexual practice was sentenced to jail under similar laws. He had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Sweden to secure his freedom. Similar cases could happen in the UK under the proposed law.
Even if there are no prosecutions (which is unlikely), the very existence of the law will make people fearful of expressing their views on this issue. As part of its Christian heritage, Britain has a long tradition of free speech. A homophobic incitement law runs counter to that. The criminal law should not be used as a political tool to silence your opponents.
Stonewall, the proponents of this law, believe it should be unlawful for Christians publicly to protest against 'gay rights' laws. Earlier this year they suggested police should have stopped a peaceful Christian protest outside Parliament against the Sexual Orientation Regulations, claiming it was "inciting hatred against gay people".