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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

Rejected on Wednesday 21st June 2017

Current status: Rejected

Rejection code: duplicate (see below for details)

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, a Leicestershire trader was 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 their protest against seal culling. Moreover, an Oxford University student was arrested in 2005 for saying to a police officer “Mate, you know your horse is gay, I hope you don’t have a problem with that.” Feeling “insulted” should never constitute a crime in and of itself. Therefore, we the undersigned petition the government to remove the word "insulting" from Section 5.

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This petition was rejected

The Government e-Petitions Team gave the following reason:

There's already a petition about this issue. We cannot accept a new petition when we already have one about a very similar issue.

You are more likely to get action on this issue if you sign and share a single petition.

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