Reform Section 5

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In the name of the
Law
Icon law.svg
To punish
and protect

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.[1] They succeeded, and insulting is no longer illegal under the Public Order Act.[2]

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 aim of Reform Section 5 was to have the word "insulting" removed from this definiton, on the grounds that legislation against insulting people violates the principle of free speech.[3]

The campaign had supporters from both the left and right. Amongst 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.[1]

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