The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
An Act to make provision about offences involving stirring up hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds.
The Public Order Act 1986 is amended by inserting:
Part 3A Hatred against persons on religious grounds
29A Meaning of religious hatred
In this Part religious hatred means hatred against a group of persons defined by
reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. Acts intended to stir up religious hatred
29B Use of words or behaviour or display of written material
(1) A person
who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
(2) An offence under this section may be
committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the written material is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and are not heard or seen except by other persons in that or another
(3) A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he reasonably suspects is committing an offence under this section.
(4) In proceedings for an offence under this section
it is a defence for the accused to prove that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the written material displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling.
(5) This section does not apply to words or behaviour used, or written material displayed, solely for the purpose of being included in a programme service.
29C Publishing or distributing
(1) A person who publishes or distributes written material which is threatening is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
References in this Part to the publication or distribution of written material are to its publication or distribution to the public or a section of the public.
29D Public performance of play
29E Distributing, showing or playing a recording
29G Possession of inflammatory material
(1) A person who has in his possession written material
which is threatening, or a recording of visual images or sounds which are threatening, with a view to—
(a) in the case of written material, its being displayed, published, distributed, or included in a
programme service whether by himself or another, or
(b) in the case of a recording, its being distributed, shown, played, or included in a programme service, whether by himself or another,
is guilty of an offence if he intends religious hatred to be stirred up thereby.
(2) For this purpose regard shall be had to such display, publication, distribution, showing, playing, or inclusion
in a programme service as he has, or it may reasonably be inferred that he has, in view.
29HPowers of entry and search
29I Power to order forfeiture
29J Protection of freedom of expression
Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike,
ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to
cease practising their religion or belief system. Supplementary provisions
29K Savings for reports of parliamentary or judicial proceedings
29L Procedure and punishment
(1) No proceedings for an offence under this Part may be instituted in England and Wales except by or with the consent of the Attorney General.
(2) For the purposes of the rules
in England and Wales against charging more than one offence in the same count or information, each of sections 29B to 29G creates one offence.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this Part is liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or a fine or both;
(b) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months
or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.
29M Offences by corporations
12. The reference
to religious belief or lack of religious belief is a broad one, and is in line with the freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 9 of the ECHR. It includes, although this list is not definitive, those religions widely recognised in this country
such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Rastafarianism, Baha'ism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism. Equally, branches or sects within a religion can be considered as religions or religious beliefs in their own right. The offences
also cover hatred directed against a group of persons defined by reference to a lack of religious belief, such as Atheists and Humanists. The offences are designed to include hatred against a group where the hatred is not based on the religious beliefs
of the group or even on a lack of any religious belief, but based on the fact that the group do not share the particular religious beliefs of the perpetrator.