Plans to make inciting hatred against gay people a crime have been announced by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
Mr Straw said the law should reflect the change in society
The law would cover gay, lesbian and bisexual people and may be extended to cover disabled and transgender people.
Mr Straw said it was time for the law to recognise society was "appalled by hatred and invective" directed at people because of their sexuality.
He told MPs the changes would be made as amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
He said: "It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last 10 years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality.
"It is time for the law to recognise this."
The gay rights group Stonewall welcomed the announcement, with chief executive Ben Summerskill saying: "A new offence will help deter extremists who stir up hatred against lesbian and gay people.
"These protections aren't about preventing people expressing their religious views in a temperate way.
"However, we refuse to accept any longer that there's no connection between extreme rap lyrics calling for gay people to be attacked or fundamentalist claims that all gay people are paedophiles, and the epidemic of anti-gay violence disfiguring Britain's streets".
Earlier attempts to extend race-hate laws to cover religion proved controversial, as critics said they went too far and threatened freedom of speech.
In another measure to be introduced to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, police and probation officers will be expected to notify the public if sex offenders pose a risk to children.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The presumption will be that the authorities will disclose information if they consider that an offender presents a risk of serious harm to a child."
This follows a government review, published in June, which recommended a pilot scheme allowing parents and guardians to request details of possible sex offenders.
It also said police and probation services should consider in each case whether a child sex offender's conviction should be disclosed to protect children.
Under another change to the bill, people on the sex offenders' register will be required to give extra information to police about e-mail addresses, and new relationships with women who have children.