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The law regarding anti-Semitic behaviour in the UK

Anti-Semitic behaviour is defined as behaviour that is offensive to anybody who has Jewish heritage, and which threatens, abuses or insults such a person based on his or her Jewish nationality, race or religion. Clearly, such acts are outlawed under an act prohibiting expressions of racial hatred, and if proved to be true, can result in fine, imprisonment or both.

Hate speech laws

Forbidden behaviour Several statutes in the UK forbid expressions of hate towards someone based on that person's ethic or national origin or religion. The law defines such behaviour as being any communication that is abusive, insulting or threatening and where the intention is to alarm, distress or harass the victim. Examples of behaviour Some instances of anti-Semitic behaviour is mocking a Jewish person's physical appearance, referring to attributes that a reasonable person would consider to be offensive should it be aimed against his nationality, making disparaging remarks about Jewish holidays or holocaust-related events and indulging in any language that could be described as singling a person out because he or she is Jewish.

Acts and punishment

Relevant acts There are three acts in the UK which could refer to anti-Semitic behaviour. The first is the Public Order Act of 1986 which bars anti-Semitic behaviour where there is an intent to stir up racial hatred. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 prohibits anyone from causing alarm or distress. Finally, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006 expanded on the Public Order Act by condemning the display of threatening written material. Punishment The Public Order Act carries a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment or a fine, or both. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act says that anyone guilty is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for at most six months or a fine. Hate crime laws This law is different from the prohibition against hate speech. The Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 states that showing hatefulness towards a person based on their membership (or presumed membership) in a racial group can be considered an aggravating factor, and would certainly encompass an anti-Semitic definition. This is confirmed by the fact that a racial group is said to be a group of people defined by their reference to race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins.

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