Possible Legal Changes: “Insulting Speech/ Behaviour” No Longer A Criminal Offence

14.10.2011

Ministers in the UK are currently considering legal changes, according to which insulting speech or actions would no longer be a criminal offence. The move to consider changes to the law on “threatening, abusive or insulting” words in public, under section five of the Public Order Act 1986, was brought forward by civil liberty groups that consider restrictions on “insulting” speech to be unfair. The Daily Mail reports that religious groups “have also criticized the law because the police have used it to arrest harmless Christian protesters. The law that criminalizes insulting speech and actions was used last year to prosecute Emdadur Choudhury, a Muslim extremist and member of Muslims Against Crusades who burned two poppies during the two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday last November, and five Muslims who shouted insults at a homecoming parade. Under the regulations of the proposal, these actions would not lead to criminal prosecutions.