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Protect Freedom of Speech by removing the word "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986

Submitted on Friday 29th July 2011

Published on Monday 8th August 2011

Current status: Closed

Closed: Wednesday 8th February 2012

Signatures: 89

Tagged with

Crime ~ Gay ~ Police ~ Seal ~ Wright

Petition Action

Protect Freedom of Speech by removing the word "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986

Additional Information

Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 forbids the use of "insulting words or behaviour" in a public place, if this is "likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress". This provision has been responsible for a number of arrests in recent years. For instance, Leicestershire trader Tony Wright found himself arrested in 2005 for selling T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Bollocks to Blair". In 2008, a 16 year old boy was arrested for calling Scientology a "dangerous cult". In addition, members of a Worcester based animal rights group found themselves arrested in 2006 for using toy seals painted with red food dye as part of a protest against seal culling. Moreover, Oxford University student Sam Brown was arrested in 2005 for saying to a police officer “Mate, your horse is gay, I hope you don’t have a problem with that.”

Feeling “insulted” should never constitute a crime by itself. Therefore, we the undersigned petition the government to remove the word "insulting" from Section 5.


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