“Public opinion is divided over controversial plans to ban incitement to religious hatred, according to an ICM poll for the BBC News website. The poll, taken in the days following the London bombings, found 51% in favour of such a move but 44% against….
“In January an ICM poll for The Guardian newspaper suggested stronger public support for incitement to religious hatred laws. The poll found 57% agreeing a ban was ‘needed to stop those who want to stir up hatred against people who want to stir up hatred against people of particular religious faiths’. It found 36% said the new law was ‘wrong because people should be allowed to express their opinions freely, however hateful’.”
The reason for this change, however, is that BBC got ICM to ask a different question. Respondents were asked: “Which comes close to your view? 1. I support laws preventing abuse or inciting hatred on faith grounds 2. Banning criticism of of those with different religious beliefs is a curb on free speech.”
The issue of religious hatred is thus expanded to include the more general category of “abuse” (which the current bill does not deal with) and it is suggested that the new law would amount to “banning criticism of of those with different religious beliefs” – which of course it doesn’t propose to do.