Reform Section 5
Reform Section 5, also known as Feel Free to Insult Me, was a successful British campaign dedicated to the reform of Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act. It was launched in May 2012. They succeeded, and insulting is no longer illegal under the Public Order Act.
In its problematic form, Section 5 contained the following text:
A person is guilty of an offence if he–
(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
The campaign had supporters from both the left and right. Among them were Peter Tatchell, who was previously arrested under this section of the Act; the National Secular Society; the Christian Institute and Big Brother Watch.
In December 2013, the Reform Section 5 campaign announced that the Home Office had removed ‘insults’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The amended act came into force on February 1, 2014.