The UK is looking for ways to change, or even completely repeal, its sometimes damaging hate speech rules in order to allow more freedom of speech and protect democracy.
In many countries, the trend over these past years has been of introducing sometimes too broadly and poorly defined, and ever-more restrictive and stringent anti hate speech laws at the expense of freedom of expression.
This has been particularly noticeable in the UK, with a recent string of incidents encroaching on people’s right to free speech, sometimes involving police and judiciary intervention.
But now, MPs like Andrew Bridgen are warning that this practice should not be allowed to continue, for the sake of protecting free speech and democracy.
In an report for the Sunday Express, Bridgen mentioned a court case that involved a man first questioned by the police because of tweets about transgender issues, and eventually brought before a judge, who, however, threw out the case – and even compared the policeman acting on a report from “an offended citizen” to “the Gestapo.”
But Bridgen doesn’t think either judges or Big Tech should be deciding at their sole discretion on a subjective matter like “regulation of language” contained in current UK laws on hate speech, dating back to the Blair era. Instead, he thinks the laws, whose initial purpose was to deal with homophobia and racism, which define hate speech as anything perceived as such “by the victim” are bad and should be revoked.
“To protect free speech and democracy, this legislation must be repealed,” said Bridgen.
A new or amended law would probably be valid only in England and Wales, as Scotland marches on with its controversial legislation dealing with the same subject. There, the direction is opposite, with intent to make hate speech legislation even more restrictive.
The current legal solutions, said to be “fueling the woke culture,” are now being examined by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is, according to her office, considering how they could be reformed.
But some MPs from the ruling Conservative Party want to see the law completely scrapped.
At the same time, experts worry that this would mean the police alone would be the ones to decide on what constitutes for hate speech.