...in an argument people would sometimes say "I disagree entirely with what you say, but would defend to the death your right to say it".?
Not any more. Message from Andrea Minichiello Williams at CCFON:
Free Speech Clause falls.
The vote to keep free speech was lost by 328 votes to 174 last night in the House of Commons with the vote being whipped rather than a free vote. The clause was initially proposed by Lord Waddington, as part of last year’s Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, in an attempt to permit legitimate discussion of sexual practice. This is a vital freedom for Christians who are called to love every individual no matter what their sexual orientation but must be free to speak out on biblical sexual ethics.
The Sexual Orientation Hatred Offence was originally proposed because homosexual lobby groups convinced the Government that there was a need to give homosexuals this particular protection. We are opposed to incitement to hatred against anyone, but existing legislation provides sufficient protection for every member of society. In 2008, Lord Waddington successfully tabled a free speech amendment to allow ‘discussion or criticism’ of sexual practices. The free speech clause deals with the chilling effect that arises when restrictions are placed on freedom to express biblical views on sexual practice. Although the Government has indicated that written Guidance will be provided to Prosecutors and Police Officers on this matter, this leaves Joe Public in a vulnerable position with no certainty about what he is free to say. This is why free speech protection needs to be stated clearly on the face of the law. Without it those wishing to express legitimate and biblical views about sexual practice could face frightening police investigation for an offence that may carry up to seven years in prison. Unless the Church wakes up and stands against this law it will find itself silenced on this matter as so many Christian Legal Centre cases demonstrate with ordinary folk dismissed and bullied for voicing their beliefs in work and every aspect of life. http://www.christianlegalcentre.com
The Government and the Liberal Democrats, particularly, opposed the free speech clause and deemed it either ‘useless or dangerous’. However, David Taylor, MP, (Labour) argued for free speech specifying that the real issue must be the protection of human liberties according to the Human Rights Act.
There is more info here