LONDON (Christian Examiner) – A member of British Parliament has claimed England's anti-terrorism laws could be brought to bear against teachers who tell students same-sex marriage is wrong, the Independent has reported.
Mark Spencer, a Tory from Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, claimed in an email to a constituent that Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) – passed to stop "hate preachers" and propagandists from spreading their message – might be the tool used to drum those who believe same-sex to be a sin out of their positions.
England's free speech laws have taken successive blows in recent years and some citizens have been charged with disrupting the public order for street preaching and other conversations about topics such as homosexuality.
According to the Telegraph, another British newspaper, Spencer insisted teachers were "perfectly entitled" to express their opinions, but only "in some situations."
Ironically, Spencer has claimed the EDOs actually strengthen, rather than inhibit free speech. He wrote: "Everybody in society has a right to free speech and to express their views without fear of persecution."
He then said discussing same-sex marriage in schools, and with impressionable children, might mean that the law had been violated by an act of "hate speech." The teacher cannot, according to Spencer, state explicitly that homosexuality or same-sex marriage is a sin.
The EDOs had the support of Prime Minister David Cameron as they worked their way through Parliament last year and to a vote this May. According to Cameron, they were needed to curtail the "harmful activities" of extremists attempting to sway the young.
Those harmful activities included creating a public disruption, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating "a threat to the functioning of democracy."
In May, Cameron told an audience:
For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.
This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
Most recently, in March 2015, a Christian street preacher in England was arrested and charged with preaching a homophobic sermon. He was found guilty by a Muslim judge – who also leads a Shariah law court – and fined 250£.
Arrests were also made in 2010 and 2013 under similar laws which prohibit speaking against homosexuality in England. A Christian pastor in Northern Ireland is currently under indictment for saying Islam is a "Satanic" religion.