Date: 13 February 2023
Dr. Anna Loutfi is a legal academic and practicing barrister in the UK. Her practice and her academic writing concentrate on issues relating to the equality act and freedom of speech constraints in the European and UK common law regimes. The focus of her talk was the category of philosophical belief in UK equality law and its implications for general freedom of expression under common law and ECHR regimes. The presentation explored how the understanding of belief and particularly notions like blasphemy expanded their legal remit in both European and UK law. In recent decades this has led to legal decisions that have, over time, restricted debate in areas from religious practice to views on gender, the environment, human rights, and illegal migration. Dr. Loutfi’s discussion explored how this case law evolution of what constitutes belief gradually eroded the space for questioning and debating what used to be essentially deeply held opinions. It is this evolution, rather than any abstract commitment to free speech, that is undermining what were once open societies.
-Dr. Anna Loutfi, Legal Academic and Practicing Barrister
-John O’Sullivan, President, Danube Institute
-Prof. David Martin Jones, Director of Research, Danube Institute