Even heckling is a ‘hate crime’ now

A woman in a burqa is being investigated for her anti-gay rant.

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A video showing a woman in a burqa shouting homophobic abuse at a Pride march in Waltham Forest, London has gone viral.

‘God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’, says the veiled woman, channelling Alan Partridge, as she berates some of the participants in the march. ‘Shame on you!’, she shouts repeatedly.

Now the police have got involved. They are investigating the incident and are treating it as a potential hate crime.

This is insane. It should not be a crime to heckle a march. A lone woman ranting and raving is obviously not a serious threat to anyone’s safety. The absolute worst case scenario is that those on the sharp end of her rants were briefly offended.

What’s more, Pride is a political event. People should be free to participate in it, ignore it or dislike it for any reason they choose. People who take part in political demos cannot expect to be protected from disagreement or even hostility. State-enforced tolerance of Pride or any other event is no tolerance at all.

This case highlights a clear tension in modern Britain. Both religious beliefs and being LGBT are considered ‘protected characteristics’ under equality law. Insulting, ridiculing or harassing someone on the basis of either of these characteristics has the potential to turn even the most minor disputes into police matters.

Nobody should be remotely surprised that a fully veiled Muslim woman holds religious objections to homosexuality. But in ‘investigating’ her heckles, the cops are, in effect, criminalising her religious beliefs. This is absolutely unacceptable. Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are the bedrock of a free society.

On this occasion, the police have sided with the gay ‘victims’ of this woman’s rant. But there is nothing to stop police, in future, from criminalising any vocal objection to Islam about its stance on homosexuality.

Already, there have been calls from community groups, including the local Labour Party, for Twitter users to avoid ‘Islamophobia’ – which is too often code for any critical discussion of Islam – when criticising the woman’s rant.

The tensions highlighted by the video will only be resolved through open and frank debate. Criminalising either side is a dangerous response.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

Helen Oyintanda

2nd August 2019 at 12:07 am

Bit concerned that Walthamstow police haven’t heard of Section 29JA of the Public Order Act 1986 which allows for discussion and criticism of sexual orientation issues, nor of the protection the Act gives her as a religious woman. Since no criminal law has been breached it cannot be a Hate Crime because hate crimes operate as aggravating factors.
There is a Christian Street Preacher arrested every week in the west of Scotland and has seen his case thrown out of court 9 times I think now because he is allowed, as a Christian, to say that homosexuality is sinful. Same with Islam, they can say it.
Nothing can happen to her.

Srdjan Miletic

30th July 2019 at 8:56 pm

I’m afraid I don’t find the argument in this article persuasive.

Should the police be investigating this incident? Yes because what she did was clearly illegal according to our current laws.

Are those laws are just? I’m unsure.On one hand expressions of political belief can be insulting but should not be banned. e.g: If I want to argue that murders are morally bad people i should be allowed to do so. On the other hand people should be free to live their lives in public without being personally harassed. I tend to think that a resonable compromise between these two values is allowing people to express any belief but not allowing them to approach specific individuals in public and scream at them that they’re bad people. I don’t see what the alternative this article proposes is unless that alternative is “It’s okay for me to walk up to strangers on the street and shout at them them repeatedly that they are bad people”

I read spiked because the argumentation is usually fairly solid.

Charles Stuart

30th July 2019 at 4:57 am

Good point in the article that all this ”inclusive” rubbish is actually political behaviour, not a moral issue at all.
All anti-discrimination laws need to be removed. They are an abomination that have led to people making themselves ”victims” instead of trying to succeed. If being a ”victim” gives you credibitlity, sympathy, power and a modet income, why would anyone not choose the path of victimhood.

cliff resnick

29th July 2019 at 9:55 pm

liberation from the closet has ironically opened a pandoras box now the genie is out of the bottle!

Jane 70

29th July 2019 at 7:03 pm

What to expect next in The Identity Games : Radical Islamist lawyer, who acts for illegals awaiting deportation faces off against wheelchair bound trans woman; Angry remainer assaults #metoo activist recently outed as Brexit supporter;
Hysterical student, ‘triggered’ by inappropriately intrusive exam question, calls out the lesbian lecturer who set the paper.

All bets are off.

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