Friday, 20 January 2012

UK laws that infringe the First Amendment

The offence is created by section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986:

"(1) 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."

S 38(1) of the Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010

38 Threatening or abusive behaviour

(1) A person (“A”) commits an offence if—
(a) A behaves in a threatening or abusive manner,
(b)the behaviour would be likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm, and
(c) A intends by the behaviour to cause fear or alarm or is reckless as to whether the behaviour would cause fear or alarm.

(2)It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to show that the behaviour was, in the particular circumstances, reasonable.

(3)Subsection (1) applies to—
(a)behaviour of any kind including, in particular, things said or otherwise communicated as well as things done, and
(b)behaviour consisting of—
(i)a single act, or
(ii)a course of conduct.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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