The Law Commission has concluded that the current protections applying to criticism of religious practices in hate crime legislation should be extended to cover 'cultural' practices.
The recommendation, made in its report on hate crime law published today, follows concerns expressed by the NSS that criticising certain religious practices may inadvertently be caught by 'stirring up' racial hatred laws.
The Law Commission's recommendations also addressed the NSS's concerns regarding 'blasphemous' imagery and inconsistencies over which groups should be protected by hate crime law.
Cultural practices and 'stirring up' offences
Laws criminalising 'stirring up' of religious hatred currently include a clause that protects "discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse" of religions or religious practices from being prosecuted as hate crime.
However, this clause does not apply to stirring up racial hatred. As a result, criticising the practices of a group considered both a race and a religion, such as Jews and Sikhs, could inadvertently fall foul of hate crime laws.
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