UK barristers are sounding the alarm on a legal review into “hate” laws which threatens to criminalise opposition to same-sex “marriage”.

Currently in Northern Ireland there is an explicit law which protects those who disagree with same-sex marriage:

“Any discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to marriage is not to be taken of itself to be – (A) threatening, abusive or insulting or (B) intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear,”, the law reads.

But a review into “hate” crime laws is considering repealing the protection, placing those who dare to dissent from LGBT orthodoxy at risk.

“It does seem that the clear purpose of the amendment is to expose people who criticise ‘same-sex’ marriage to prosecution,” said Barrister Thomas Leonard Ross QC.

“The withdrawal of the defence would not automatically turn such discussion into an offence. But it’d certainly give the prosecution authority the green light to have a crack at obtaining a conviction for it.”

Likewise, barrister Ivan Hare QC has spoken out against the review, which could see so-called “hate” laws broadened to not just cover same-sex “marriage” but transgender issues, too, restricting people from speaking out about the male-female biological reality of sex.

In a legal opinion for the Christian Institute, Hare said that there is “a very real risk that robust and uninhibited discussion of matters of great public importance will suffer a chilling effect”.