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UK religious hate bill survives Commons challenge

[JURIST] The British government Tuesday weathered an attempt by opposition MPs and some Labour Party backbenchers to stop its proposed [JURIST report] Racial and Religious Hatred Bill [BBC backgrounder; bill text] when an amendment to block the bill failed by a vote of 303-246. The controversial measure has been criticized as a limit on free expression [JURIST report] that would go so far as to prohibit some religious jokes. UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke denied that the bill would have any chilling effect on religious humor and emphasized that the proposal was aimed at "hatred and incitement to hatred." Current UK laws aimed at curbing racial hatred have resulted in 76 prosecutions and 44 convictions over 20 years. BBC News has more.

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