A British woman in a long-term relationship with a 92-year-old German chandelier has been told that her attraction to historic light fittings is not considered to be a protected sexual orientation. She also objected to the Sun saying that she is married to the chandelier. She insists that she is merely in a relationship though various papers reported on her plan to marry the chandelier.
Now here is the interesting legal element. The complaint was dismissed because the code only “provides protection to individuals in relation to their sexual orientation towards other persons and not to objects”. As a result her attraction to an object “did not fall within the definition of sexual orientation.”
This group of individuals are sometimes called “objectophiles” or mechanophiliacs. While some have found nothing wrong psychologically, this ruling rejects such views as a real form of sexual orientation. OS is identified as a sexual orientation in scientific journals but it has also been associated with autism and synaesthesia.
So if it is recognized as sexual orientation, the question is whether its rejection can be challenged as a form of discrimination. Moreover, there is the question of whether it constitutes a form of hate speech under UK laws. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. Once allowed to criminalize speech, individuals and groups demand more and more prohibitions. England is in a free fall over free speech. The police have indicated that they are considering making wolf whistles the latest category of hate speech. We also have even seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).
Under these laws, statements found offensive by others can constitute criminal hate speech. An example is the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which states in pertinent part:
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, 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,
thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to both.
“Insulting” as a definition is particularly anathema for free speech advocates as so general to defy real limitation or definition. OS is a clear group of people who are being mocked in a way that the IPSO admitted was offensive. It would seem to lay the foundation for such a claim.
I have obviously been highly critical of these laws and this case is a good example of how social commentary can easily become criminalized speech.