The Home Secretary has banned two extremist anti-gay preachers from entering Britain, a move that follows a decision to refuse entry to Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim MP.
Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, who belong to the US Westboro Baptist Church, were planning to come to the UK to protest outside a performance of a youth play called The Laramie Project, which recounts the death of gay university student Matthew Shepard who was killed in Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. It was due to be performed at Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke, Hampshire, tomorrow.
It emerged that the pair were due to enter the UK to launch their demonstration when they made an announcement on their website. “God hates the Queen Mary’s College, and the fag-infested UK, England, and all having to do with spreading sodomite lies via The Laramie Project, this tacky bit of cheap fag propaganda masquerading as legitimate theater,” it said.
Now, it will be interesting to see if this provokes the same outraged denunciations of the suppression of free speech as the Wilders ban did, won’t it? Don’t hold your breath.
This member of the Islamophobia Watch collective takes a consistent line on such issues. Freedom of expression doesn’t cover the right to incite hatred against minority communities, and people who want to enter the UK to do this should be excluded. As in the Wilders case, Jacqui Smith has made the right decision here.