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MPs to debate make online homophobia a specific criminal offence

On Monday 1 July MPs will debate a petition urging the Government make online homophobia a specific criminal offence. Daniel Zeichner MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate.

Houses of parliament
CREDIT: Jake Hook

The petition, which has more than 152,000 signatures was started by TV personality Bobby Norris.

Bobby Norris states: “As a gay man I find it devastating how members of the LGBT community are still subjected to homophobic abuse online.

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“Just because I am on TV I don’t think that makes it acceptable to be sent homophobic messages and comments on social media platforms.

“Nobody should have to receive these comments.”

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Mr Norris adds, “I won’t go into detail as to the various names I have been called, but this should not be acceptable and can have an impact on people’s mental health and has certainly helped in making my anxiety and low self-esteem worse by receiving them.”

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In response to the petition, the Government said, “The Government recognises the harm that homophobic online messages can cause. We are working cross-Government to challenge inequality and make the UK’s online environment a safer place for everyone.”

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Monday’s debate will provide an opportunity for MPs to question a Government Minister directly on this topic.

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In January, the Petitions Committee published its report into online abuse and the experience of disabled people. The inquiry found that the current laws around online abuse are not fit for purpose. The report can be read here

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