In recent years the government has introduced a raft of new speech crimes, including incitement to religious hatred and incitement to sexual hatred. They claim that this kind of ‘hate speech', which disregards our values of tolerance and mutual respect, is beyond the pale and should be outlawed in the interests of community cohesion. However, many campaigners believe that free speech is a non-negotiable human right, even where it causes serious offence. Writers who investigate the tensions in the contemporary politics of race, religion and sexuality often find themselves on the front line of this powerful social conflict. Germaine Greer, Francesca Klug, Rex Bloomstein and Peter Tatchell ask: Should we criminalise racism, religious hatred and sexual hatred? Or should we trust in society to find the right balance between competing versions of freedom? Chaired by Lisa Appignanesi, President of English PEN.
Followed by a screening of Rex Bloomstein's new documentary An Independent Mind in which eight people from around the world attempt to exercise their right to free expression.
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £6 (concessions £4) (advance booking recommended)