Don’t squash freedom to speak out on gay marriage, Labour MP says

Jul 6, 2015

People should be free to express their views on subjects like same-sex marriage, rather than have their opinions shut down and labeled ‘extreme’.

That’s the view of Labour MP for Bolton South East, Yasmin Qureshi.

She made her comments on the BBC’s World at One, in a debate with Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi on plans for new extremism legislation.

Qureshi told presenter Martha Kearney that people had written to her expressing orthodox religious views on homosexuality, and that people should be free to express such views.

However, during the conversation on the extremism plans, Zahawi commented “we should be intolerant of intolerance”.

His remarks repeat those of David Cameron who has said the Government wants to end the country’s “passively tolerant society” which says “as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”.

This is all part of an anti-extremism agenda designed to crack down on those who oppose ‘British values’.

But we enter dangerous territory when, instead of focusing on tackling Islamist terrorism, the law moves into vague and broad definitions of ‘extremism’.

While concerns persist about what that will mean for people who speak out clearly in favour of marriage between one man and one woman, it is encouraging to hear Yasmin Qureshi’s comments.

How important it is now that more MPs – regardless of their views on gay marriage – support people’s right to freedom of expression.