It seems like the distinction is between religious "incitement" (the original phrasing of the bill), and the harder "hatred" (in the new phrasing). The goal is to prevent the law from being invoked against comedians, parodists, and Salman Rushdie:
Performers and writers, including Rowan Atkinson and Salman Rushdie, have helped to force a government climbdown over new legislation which bans incitement to religious hatred.
The Government is to rename the offence “hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds” to make clear that it is not religious jokes, beliefs or ideas that are being targeted.
I'm still a little confused as to what is current British law. These paragraphs, for instance, are hard to parse:
Ms [Pamela] Mactaggart said: “The Government has put down an amendment which is changing the title in order to clarify something that I think has created some anxiety.
"It is hatred against people rather than hatred of ideas that we are trying to prohibit. The name of the offence has helped to create a context in which some of this confusion has flourished."
The law against inciting racial hatred protects Jews and Sikhs but not Muslims, Christians or other religious groups. The Board of Deputies of British Jews believes that the incitement to racial hatred offence has reduced the amount of anti-Semitic literature.
The Government believes that the new religious hatred offence will have a symbolic impact, particularly in reassuring Muslim communities that have felt vulnerable since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Wait, it applies to Jews and Sikhs, but not Muslims or Christians? How does that make sense?