New hate strategy 'could criminalise comics like Ricky Gervais': Home Office draws up plans to encourage more people to complain to police over anti-trans hate crimes
- New strategy aims to 'increase the reporting of all forms of hate crime'
- Free-speech campaigners fear the new drive could see comedians criminalised
- The proposals would see 'perpetrators' accused of 'non-crime hate incidents'
Plans to encourage more people to complain to police about anti-trans hate crimes could criminalise comedians such as Ricky Gervais, campaigners have warned.
Those in favour of the proposals, which would see 'perpetrators' accused of 'non-crime hate incidents', hope people will feel better protected from harm.
But free-speech campaigners fear the new drive could see comedians criminalised for telling jokes, particularly about the rise of transgender ideology.
The plans are being developed despite a court ruling last year, which ordered police to stop recording gender-critical views as non-crime hate incidents, which are declarations of wrongdoing added to someone's criminal record.
Plans to encourage more people to complain to police about anti-trans hate crimes could criminalise comedians such as Ricky Gervais, campaigners have warned
Last night, Sarah Phillimore, a barrister from the Fair Cop campaign group, said that Ministers' plans ignored the Appeal Court ruling and could put the police on the wrong side of the law.
She said: 'These plans suggest either that the Government is not paying attention, or that they have contempt for the Court of Appeal. Either way, it is astonishing that legislators are planning to expand the discredited and unlawful practice of recording non-crime hate incidents [NCHIs]. Following Fair Cop's win in the Court of Appeal in December, the College of Policing promised to publish revised hate crime guidance by the end of May this year. We're still waiting. Police forces that record complaints against comedians – or any other lawful speech – as NCHIs will be piling illegality upon illegality.
'They will then find themselves in court with no legitimate defence. This quixotic strategy oozes arrogance, as if the law does not apply if you're fighting for 'the right side of history'.
Under the new strategy being developed by the Government, members of the public could be allowed to register an official complaint about his routine
'But how can you be on the right side of history if you're repeatedly on the wrong side of the law?'
The move comes after Gervais, creator of The Office, angered Twitter's 'woke' brigade following the broadcast of his new Netflix special, SuperNature, which mocks cancel culture with jokes about trans people, Hitler and AIDS.
The comic, 60, kicks off the show by describing comedy to the audience as 'basically a bloke talking', before deliberately failing to recall any 'funny female comedians'. In one skit he says: 'The worst thing you can say today is, 'Women don't have penises', right?'
The show has sparked a backlash from LGBT groups and has seen Gervais accused of hate crimes.
Under the new strategy being developed by the Government, members of the public could be allowed to register an official complaint about his routine.
A Home Office spokesperson said: 'These claims are completely wrong – there are no plans to expand recording of non-crime hate incidents, nor will we criminalise comedians or introduce a complaint scheme. Free speech is a fundamental right and we will always protect it.
'Our approach will ensure the police are focussing their resource on serious and harmful hate crimes, such as violent assaults and attacks on places of worship.'