- A Klu Klux Klan member who called for "revengeance" against "niggers" and Jews on national TV.
- Nazi party members who wanted to march, with swastikas, through a neighborhood with a large number of Jewish residents.
- The Westboro Baptist Church who picketed the funeral of a fallen Marine with signs that said "Thank God for Dead Soldiers".
I am pretty sure that some, if not all of these, would be prosecuted in Britain, and, in my opinion, rightly so. The Public Order Act 1986 forbids communications that contain expressions of hatred toward someone on account of that person's colour, race, disability, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation is forbidden. Any communication which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone is forbidden. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both.
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 amended the Public Order Act 1986 by adding Part 3A. That Part says, "A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred." The Part protects freedom of expression by stating in Section 29J:
Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system. Subjective descriptions of a person's actions or behaviour, however abhorrent, crass or objectionable, may not be considered an attempt to spread hate unless the motive is clearly defined as such.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 amended Part 3A of the earlier Act, to add the offence of inciting hatred on the ground of sexual orientation.
All the offences in Part 3 attach to the following acts: the use of words or behaviour or display of written material, publishing or distributing written material, the public performance of a play, distributing, showing or playing a recording, broadcasting or including a programme in a programme service, and possession of inflammatory material. In the circumstances of hatred based on religious belief or on sexual orientation, the relevant act (namely, words, behaviour, written material, or recordings, or programme) must be threatening and not just abusive or insulting.
On 13 October 2001, Harry Hammond, an evangelist, was arrested and charged under section 5 of the Public Order Act (1986) because he had displayed to people in Bournemouth a large sign bearing the words "Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord". In April 2002, a magistrate convicted Hammond, fined him £300, and ordered him to pay costs of £395.
On 2 September 2006, Stephen Green was arrested in Cardiff for distributing pamphlets which called sexual activity between members of the same sex a sin. On 28 September 2006, the Crown advised Cardiff Magistrates Court that it would not proceed with the prosecution.
On 8 December 2009, Mr Justice Richard Clancy, sitting at Liverpool Magistrates' Court, acquitted Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, hoteliers, of charges under the Public Order Act 1986 and under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The Vogelensangs were charged after a guest at their hotel, Ericka Tazi, complained that the Vogelenzangs had insulted her after she appeared in a hijab.
On 4 March 2010, a jury returned a verdict of guilty against Harry Taylor, who was charged under Part 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. Taylor was charged because he left anti-religious cartoons in the prayer-room of Liverpool's John Lennon Airport on three occasions in 2008. The airport chaplain, who was insulted, offended, and alarmed by the cartoons, called the police. He got a six-month term of imprisonment suspended for two years, a five-year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), and 100 hours of unpaid work. This was his second conviction.
On 20 April 2010, police arrested Dale McAlpine, a Christian preacher, of Workington in Cumbria, for saying that homosexual conduct was a sin. On 14 May 2010, the Crown decided not to prosecute McAlpine. Later still the police apologised to McAlpine for arresting him at all, and paid him several thousand pounds compensation.