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LONDON, United Kingdom, March 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The London Metropolitan Police released new guidelines for defining “hate crimes” within their jurisdiction, and their broadness has sparked renewed fear over authorities crossing the line from policing crimes to persecuting thought.

The guidelines state that hate crimes motivated by “disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference” need not be physical crimes in the traditional sense, but may include “using offensive language” about “who you are,” whether spoken in person or posted online.

Moreover, the guidelines do not state objective criteria for determining whether “prejudice” motivated an action. It need only be simply “perceived” as such by the victim, a third party, or a police officer. In fact, the police expressly declare that “[e]vidence of the hate element is not a requirement.”

In addition to straightforward examples of criminal conduct, such as physical assault or incitement to violence, the guidelines define “verbal abuse,” “name-calling,” and posting content online that is “intended to stir up hatred.” Critics fear that this means any expression of disapproval or disagreement regarding a state-favored group could be construed as hateful, and legally punished.

An earlier version of the document, since edited but still accessible via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, all but confirms such suspicions, explicitly stating that these standards mean otherwise-lawful conduct may become criminal on the sole basis of the values expressed while doing so: “Though what the perpetrator has done may not be against the law, their reasons for doing it are. This means it may be possible to charge them with an offence.”

On Monday, LifeSiteNews covered one such recent example. In February, U.K. stay-at-home mother of four Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull found herself interrogated by police over a series of tweets in which she criticized Susie Green, the CEO of pro-transgender charity Mermaids, for taking her son to Thailand to have his genitals removed at age 16.

Green reported Keen-Minshull to the police, who reportedly told her she was a “test case” for their new “human rights” efforts. Across two phone conversations, according to Keen-Minshull, the police equated the transgender movement with the fight for racial equality, and said that she would be arrested if she refused to see them for a third, in-person, interview.

The Christian Post reports that her case is currently pending before the Crown Prosecution Services, and she still does not know whether she will be charged with a crime. Last year, CPS director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders called for more proactive action against “online hate crime” to prevent “extreme views” on sexuality and gender “from gestating in the first place.”  

In the meantime, Keen-Minshull is defiant.

“This fight is not whether you agree with my views on transgender issues as much it is that you agree that I have a right to air my views, a right to voice an opinion, a right to free speech,” she said on the blog of Hands Across the Aisle, a U.K. group opposed to transgender ideology. “I will not be compelled to say a man is a woman, or that sterilising children is okay, that encouraging kids who don’t fit in or who struggle with their identity that a good solution is puberty blockers and cross sex hormones and a life time of drugs.”

In 2017, British members of Parliament were among the 6,000 people to sign a petition in demanding that evangelist Franklin Graham be barred from entering the country over supposed “hate speech” against Muslims and homosexuals.

In June 2015, Christian charity Core Issues Trust was forced to pay the London bus authority £100,000 (about 155,000 USD) in legal costs after a homosexual advocacy group sued to have the charity’s ads removed from London buses.

There have also been numerous cases of London police arresting street preachers for preaching that homosexual activity is sinful.