On Monday 1 July, members of parliament will debate a petition calling for online homophobia to be made a specific criminal offence. Daniel Zeichner MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate.

The petition has received over 150,000 signatures, and was started by The Only Way Is Essex reality star and out gay man Bobby Norris.

“As a gay man I find it devastating how members of the LGBT community are still subjected to homophobic abuse online,” Bobby said.

“Just because I am on TV I don’t think that makes it acceptable to be sent homophobic messages and comments on social media platforms. Nobody should have to receive these comments.

“I won’t go into detail as to the various names I have been called, but this should not be acceptable and can have an impact on people’s mental health and has certainly helped in making my anxiety and low self-esteem worse by receiving them.”

In response to the petition, the Government acknowledged that harmful and discriminatory messages shared on the internet “would not be tolerated offline”, and said that protecting people online is a “top priority” for them.

“The Government recognises the harm that homophobic online messages can cause. We are working cross-Government to challenge inequality and make the UK’s online environment a safer place for everyone,” they said.

MPs will debate the petition on Monday 1 July – you can watch the debate on the official UK Parliament YouTube channel.

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