Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986:
“(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”Section 74 and Schedule 16 amend Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986 to extend hate crime legislation to cover “hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to sexual orientation (whether towards persons of the same sex, the opposite sex or both).”
To prevent the Act being used to inhibit freedom of speech on the subject of homosexuality, paragraph 14 of Schedule 16 inserts a new section 29JA, entitled “Protection of freedom of expression (sexual orientation)” but sometimes known as the Waddington Amendment (after Lord Waddington who introduced it). It reads:
|“||In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.||”|
The government tried to insert a clause in the 2009 Coroners and Justice Bill which would have explicitly repealed section 29JA, but the proposed repeal failed and section 29JA remains.
Section 74 and Schedule 16 came into force on 23 March 2010. However, only days later (12 April) Cumbria Police chose to ignore the Waddington Amendment when they arrested and charged street preacher Dale Mcalpine for telling a gay Police Community Support Officer that according to the Bible homosexuality was a sin. When Mcalpine pointed out that the arrest was unlawful the arresting officer refused to listen. Charges were eventually dropped and Mcalpine is now suing the police for wrongful arrest.
…and yet Human Rights Act 2000 says:
Article 10: Freedom of Expression
(1) Everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without inference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.