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Traditional views on sexuality silenced by new liberal "censoriousness", warns Lord Neuberger

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Britain’s most senior judge has warned that traditional views on sexuality are being shut out of debate as part of a liberal “censoriousness” about what views can be expressed in public. 

Lord Neuberger said that attempts to make Britain more diverse were “insidiously” achieving the opposite by restricting free speech and shutting out traditionally held views as “unacceptable”.

He warned that Britain risked “losing diversity in practice” if views deemed as offensive are continued to be sidelined, adding that a “freedom only to speak inoffensively is a freedom not worth having”.


“A tendency appears to be growing in some quarters which is antithetical to diversity in a rather indirect and insidious way,” he said.

“Possibly as a counter-reaction to the permissive society, a combination of political correctness and moral reaction appears to be developing.

“While I have no wish to comment on…this development, I fear that it may risk spilling over into a censoriousness about what views people can publicly air as to the merits of diversity or other issues which indirectly relate to diversity.

“As has been said on more than one occasion, freedom only to speak inoffensively is a freedom not worth having.”


The comments follow a series of cases, supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), where Christian employees have been penalised or dismissed for expressing their genuinely held Biblical beliefs that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.

CLC client Gary McFarlane, who worked as a relationships counsellor with Relate Avon, was sacked after mentioning that he might have a conscientious objection to providing sex therapy to homosexual couples.  The decision was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and later by the European Court of Human Rights.

"Less diverse"

“The more that arguments and views are shut out as unacceptable the less diverse we risk becoming in terms of outlook,” Lord Neuberger added:

“And the less diverse we become in terms of outlook, the more we risk not valuing diversity and the more we therefore risk losing diversity in practice.”




Booklet: Same-sex ‘marriage’: the cost and consequences of redefining marriage