Tuesday, February 01, 2005


A University of Central Oklahoma student group is planning what it calls "Straight Pride Week" on campus. Members of the College Republicans said despite objections from some, they have every right to celebrate. "The general gist is that if you are a straight student on campus be proud, be loud, this is your time to shine," said college Republican Kyle Houts. The group has posted fliers on campus that read, "we're here, we're conservative, we're out." Members of the Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality say they consider the College Republican's celebration an attack on gay and lesbian students. "What is there to say about it, 'I'm proud, and I'm straight and I guess white,' I don't know?" said GATE member Jennifer Rodriguez. "I think they definitely are being discriminatory because there's probably a lot of gay Republicans out there." University officials have given the College Republicans permission to put up their fliers, but say their approval does not constitute an endorsement.



"Muslims were warned by the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday that new laws designed to combat religious hatred would not stop people from being rude about Islam. Ken Macdonald told MPs that he wanted to play down Muslim expectations to avoid a backlash against police and politicians because very few cases were likely to reach the courts. People will remain "perfectly free to be rude or offensive" about Islam or any other other religion because in most cases the right of free speech will still prevail, Mr Macdonald said. He added: "It is very important people understand what the law will achieve. It will stop the grossest form of conduct but it will not stop people being rude about Islam."

Mr Macdonald was speaking at the Home Affairs Select Committee, where he also repeated his caution to ministers to keep the right to jury trial even for terrorist suspects. He told MPs of his concern that religious incitement laws, part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, were expected by some to stop all forms of criticism or abuse of Islam.

The proposals have also been criticised for threatening to stifle free speech. Mr Macdonald said that they would not have been possible in the United States because of the First Amendment. But in the light of existing laws on incitement to racial hatred, British courts would "set the bar very high" before convicting, he added.

Since 2001 there had been 86 referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service for racial hatred but only six prosecutions and two convictions, with one dropped and three ongoing.

Mr Macdonald added: "The main issue is managing expectations . . . Communities have said they believe it will protect them from people being rude or offensive about Islam - but you are perfectly free to be rude or offensive about any religion and the law protects you".

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