Queen's Speech: Outrage as UK government pursues "anti-boycott" bill

5/10/2022 7:06 PM
 Prince Charles, Prince of Wales sits by the Imperial State Crown as he delivers the Queen’s Speech during the state opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 10, 2022 in London

The UK government announced plans to ban public bodies from taking part in boycott and divestment campaigns — a move that pro-Palestine activists say must be opposed.

The proposed legislation, widely seen as a way of limiting Palestinian solidarity, was included in the Queen's Speech, which sets out the government's agenda for the coming year.

The speech, delivered by Prince Charles in the absence of the monarch, unveiled a package of 38 Bills and included other controversial proposals, such as the replacement of the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.

The Prince of Wales announced that legislation to "prevent public bodies engaging in boycotts that undermine community cohesion" would be prepared by the government.

The bill is meant to prevent local councils and other public bodies from pursuing campaigns to boycott goods from certain countries. It comes in the wake of several councils attempting to boycott goods from Israel.

Activists 'outraged' by proposed bill

Palestinian activists in the UK widely support the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and see it as a non-violent way of resisting Israeli oppression.

"Queen's Speech confirms that the UK Gov will pursue its ‘anti-boycott bill’ to prevent public bodies from deciding not to do business with companies abusing human rights and our planet. This must be opposed!," tweeted the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

"This morning Israel demolished a Palestinian home using Hyundai bulldozers. According to the UK gov's plans, a UK public body could be forced to continue doing business with Hyundai even if the council decided against it because of human rights concerns," it added.

Jewish activists have also been vocal about the proposed bill: "We are outraged that the government is pushing forward with its authoritarian anti-boycott bill," tweeted JSA.

"We wont stand by as our basic civil liberties are relentlessly repressed," it added.  

Other social media commentators and pundits also commented on the controversial bill