The press reports about the successful prosecution of a number of leaflet distributors in Derby for passing out anti-gay leaflets which alluded to the possible desirability of the death penalty for LGBT people (see http://uk.news.yahoo.com/muslims-guilty-over-gay-leaflets-152353818.html ) make me both pleased (that the law has acted to defend LGBT people from hatred) and thoughtful. The fact that all of the individuals concerned are Muslims is almost entirely irrelevant at one level - plough any set of sacred Scriptures (Christian, Jewish Islamic, Buddhist or Hindu) and you will find anti-Gay or potentially anti-gay material. Of course there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that they and their supporters will see themas martyrs like St Vincent here.
But there is always the slight worry in my mind that any such legal action against faith based demonstrations in what might be called the political sphere (and LGBT rights are a matter of politics) could later be used for a more general repression of the voice of the Faiths when they are critical of current political trends or developments. legitimate faith inspired dissent has a honourable place and a decent one in our political life. For year CND was led by outspoken and faith inspired clergy like Canon John Collins (below)
and Monsignor Bruce Kent. So, whilst I'm glad the leaflet distributors were made to feel the full weight of a wise law, let us never forget that there should always be freedom for those who religious convictions compel them to dissent from the prevailing viewpoint as long as it doesn't advocate violence.