Hate speech: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hate speech is, outside of the law, any communication which disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation.[1][2] In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.[3] In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

A website that uses hate speech is called a hate site. Most of these sites contain Internet forums and news briefs that emphasize a particular viewpoint. There has been debate over how freedom of speech applies to the Internet. Conferences concerning such sites have been sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[4]



Australia's hate speech laws vary by jurisdiction, and seek especially to prevent victimisation on account of race.


The Belgian Anti-Racism Law, in full, the Law of July 30, 1981 on the Punishment of Certain Acts inspired by Racism or Xenophobia, is a law against hate speech and discrimination passed by the Federal Parliament of Belgium in 1981 which made certain acts motivated by racism or xenophobia illegal. It is also known as the Moureaux Law.

The Belgian Holocaust denial law, passed on March 23, 1995, bans public Holocaust denial. Specifically, the law makes it illegal to publicly "deny, play down, justify or approve of the genocide committed by the German National Socialist regime during the Second World War". Prosecution is led by the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities. The offense is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and fines of up to 2500 EUR.


In Brazil, according to the 1988 Brazilian Constitution, racism and other forms of race-related hate speech are "imprescriptible crime(s) with no right to bail to its accused".[5] In 2006, a joint-action between the Federal Police and the Argentinian police has cracked down several hate-related websites. However, some of these sites have recently reappeared—the users have re-created the same sites on American domain. The federal police have asked permission from the FBI to crack down these sites, but the FBI denied, stating that the First Amendment guarantees the right to any speech, even if it involves racism.


In Canada, advocating genocide or inciting hatred[6] against any 'identifiable group' is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada with maximum terms of two to fourteen years. An 'identifiable group' is defined as 'any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.' It makes exceptions for cases of statements of truth, and subjects of public debate and religious doctrine. The landmark judicial decision on the constitutionality of this law was R. v. Keegstra (1990).

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has worked intensively on this issue. While Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not prohibit criminal laws against revisionism such as denial or minimization of genocides or crimes against humanity, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe went further and recommended to member governments to combat hate speech under its Recommendation R (97) 20. The Council of Europe also created the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, which has produced country reports and several general policy recommendations, for instance against anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims.


Croatian constitution guarantees freedom of speech, but Croatian penal code prohibits and punishes "who based on racial, religious, language, political or any other belief, wealth, birth, education, social status or other properties, gender, skin color, nationality or ethnicity violates basic human rights and freedoms recognized from international community".[7]


Denmark prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten, ridicule or hold in contempt a group due to race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.[8]


Finland prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or insult a national, racial, ethnic or religious group or a similar group.[9]


France prohibits the publication of material which is defamatory or insulting, or which incites discrimination, hatred, or violence against a person or a group of persons on account of place of origin, ethnicity or lack thereof, nationality, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or handicap.[10][11] The law also prohibits declarations that eulogize war crimes and crimes against humanity[12] and those that deny crimes against humanities, as defined by the statutes International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg, committed by individuals or organizations convicted for these crimes by this tribunal, French or foreign courts (e.g. the Jewish Holocaust).[13] French law allows a plaintiff to launch an action on account of hate speech in a criminal court or in a civil court. The Public Prosecutor can turn a civil action into a criminal action. The penalties include imprisonment, a fine, or both.[14]

In 2002, a court found writer Michel Houellebecq not guilty of inciting racism for saying during an interview that Islam was "the stupidest religion", among other quotations.[15][16] In 2006, Paris Mosque, the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, and the World Islamic League began its suit against Charlie-Hebdo magazine and its director Philippe Val for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The Islamic organizations complained that the caricatures, which were from a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, insulted Muslims. On 22 March 2007, a court ruled against the plaintiffs.[17]

In 2007, a correctional tribunal in Lyon sentenced Bruno Gollnisch to a three-month, suspended prison-term and a fine of €55,000 for the offense of verbal contestation of the existence of crimes against humanity because of his remarks about the Holocaust.[18] In 2008, legendary French actress Brigitte Bardot was convicted for the fifth time for inciting racial hatred. The Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP) filed the charge against Bardot because, in a letter to the government about the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Kabir, she complained about "this population that leads us around by the nose, [and] which destroys our country." [19]


In Germany, Volksverhetzung ("Sedition") is a punishable offense under Section 130 of the Strafgesetzbuch (Germany's criminal code) and can lead to up to five years imprisonment. Section 130 makes it a crime to publicly incite hatred against parts of the population or to call for violent or arbitrary measures against them or to insult, maliciously slur or defame them in a manner violating their (constitutionally protected) human dignity. Thus for instance it is illegal to publicly call certain ethnic groups "maggots" or "freeloaders". Volksverhetzung is punishable in Germany even if committed abroad and even if committed by non-German citizens, if only the incitement of hatred takes effect within German territory, e.g. the seditious sentiment was expressed in German writ or speech and made accessible in Germany (German criminal code's Principle of Ubiquity, Section 9 §1 Alt. 3 and 4 of the Strafgesetzbuch).


In Iceland, the hate speech law is not confined to inciting hatred, as one can see from Article 233 a. in the Icelandic Penal Code, but includes simply expressing such hatred publicly:

Anyone who in a ridiculing, slanderous, insulting, threatening or any other manner publicly assaults a person or a group of people on the basis of their nationality, skin colour, race, religion or sexual orientation, shall be fined or jailed for up to 2 years. (The word "assault" in this context does not refer to physical violence, only to expressions of hatred.)


India prohibits any manner of expression which someone might consider insulting to his religion or which for whatever reason might disturb public tranquility.


In Ireland, the right to free speech is guaranteed under the Constitution (Article 40.6.1.i). However, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, proscribes words or behaviours which are "threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred" against "a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation."[20]


In 2006, two Jordanian newspaper editors were jailed for two months after being found guilty of "attacking religious sentiment." The editors had reprinted cartoons from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.[21]


In January 2009, a court in Amsterdam ordered the prosecution of Geert Wilders, a Dutch Member of Parliament, "for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs."[22]

New Zealand

New Zealand prohibits hate speech under the Human Rights Act 1993. Section 61 (Racial Disharmony) makes it unlawful to publish or distribute "threatening, abusive, or insulting...matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons...on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national or ethnic origins of that group of persons." Section 131 (Inciting Racial Disharmony) lists offences for which "racial disharmony" creates liability.


Norway prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or ridicule someone or that incite hatred, persecution or contempt for someone due to their skin colour, ethnic origin, homosexual life style or orientation or, religion or philosophy of life.[23]


The Serbian constitution guarantees freedom of speech, but declares that it may be restricted by law to protect rights and respectability of others. Because of inter ethnic conflicts during last decade of 20th century, Serbian authorities are very rigorous about ethnic, racial and religion based hate speech. It is processed as "Provoking ethnic, racial and religion based animosity and intolerance" criminal act, and punished with six months to ten years of imprisonment.[24]


Singapore has passed numerous laws that prohibit speech that causes disharmony among various religious groups. The Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act is an example of such legislation. The Penal Code criminalizes the deliberate promotion by someone of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different racial and religious groups on grounds of race or religion. It also makes it an offence for anyone to deliberately wound the religious or racial feelings of any person.

South Africa

In South Africa, Act No. 4 of 2000: Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.contains the following clause:

10. (1) Subject to the proviso in section 12. no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to -

(a) be hurtful;
(b) be harmful or to incite harm;
(c) promote or propagate hatred.


The crime of crimen injuria ("unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another.")[26] may also be used to prosecute hate speech.[27]


Sweden prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or express disrespect for an ethnic group or similar group regarding their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.[28] The sexual orientation provision, added in 2002,[29] was used to convict Pentecostalist pastor Åke Green of hate speech based on a 2003 sermon citing biblical passages concerning homosexuality. His conviction was later overturned[30].


In Switzerland public discrimination or invoking to rancor against persons or a group of people because of their race, ethnicity, is getting penalized with a term of imprisonment until 3 years or a mulct. In 1934, the authorities of the Basel-Stadt canton criminalized anti-Jewish hate speech, e.g. the accusation of ritual murders, mostly in reaction against a pro-nazi antisemitic group and newspaper, the Volksbund.[31]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Public Order Act 1986 prohibits, by its Part 3, expressions of racial hatred, which is defined as hatred against a group of persons by reason of the group's colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins. Section 18 of the Act says:

A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if—
(a) he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred, or
(b) having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.

Offences under Part 3 carry a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment or a fine or both.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 amended the Public Order Act 1986 by adding Part 3A. That Part says, "A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred." The Part protects freedom of expression by stating in Section 29J:

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 amended Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986. The amended Part 3A adds, for England and Wales, the offence of inciting hatred on the ground of sexual orientation. All the offences in Part 3 attach to the following acts: the use of words or behaviour or display of written material, publishing or distributing written material, the public performance of a play, distributing, showing or playing a recording, broadcasting or including a programme in a programme service, and possession of inflammatory material. In the circumstances of hatred based on religious belief or on sexual orientation, the relevant act (namely, words, behaviour, written material, or recordings, or programme) must be threatening and not just abusive or insulting.[32]

United States

The United States federal government and state governments are broadly forbidden by the First Amendment of the Constitution from restricting speech. See, e.g., Gitlow v. New York (1925), incorporating the free speech clause. Generally speaking, the First Amendment prohibits governments from regulating the content of speech, subject to a few recognized exceptions such as defamation[33] and incitement to riot.[34] Even in cases where speech encourages illegal violence, instances of incitement qualify as criminal only if the threat of violence is imminent.[35] This strict standard prevents prosecution of many cases of incitement, including prosecution of those advocating violent opposition to the government, and those exhorting violence against racial, ethnic, or gender minorities. See, e.g., Yates v. United States (1957), Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969).

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may sometimes be prosecuted for tolerating "hate speech" by their employees, if that speech contributes to a broader pattern of harassment resulting in a "hostile or offensive working environment" for other employees.[36] See, e.g., Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986), Patterson v. McLean Credit Union (1989).

In the 1980s and 1990s, more than 350 public universities adopted "speech codes" regulating discriminatory speech by faculty and students.[37] These codes have not fared well in the courts, where they are frequently overturned as violations of the First Amendment. See, e.g., Doe v. Michigan (1989), UWM Post v. Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin (1991), Dambrot v. Central Michigan University (1995), Corry v. Stanford (1995). Debate over restriction of "hate speech" in public universities has resurfaced with the adoption of anti-harassment codes covering discriminatory speech.[38]

See also


  1. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hate+speech
  2. ^ Nockleby, John T. (2000), “Hate Speech,” in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, ed. Leonard W. Levy and Kenneth L. Karst, vol. 3. (2nd ed.), Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, pp. 1277-1279. Cited in "Library 2.0 and the Problem of Hate Speech," by Margaret Brown-Sica and Jeffrey Beall, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, vol. 9 no. 2 (Summer 2008).
  3. ^ Kinney, Terry A. (2008). "Hate Speech and Ethnophaulisms". The International Encyclopedia of Communication. Blackwell Reference Online. doi:10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x. http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/tocnode?id=g9781405131995_chunk_g978140513199513_ss4-1. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  4. ^ http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/AllSymbols/FA869F4E19CCCBC1C1256A570031F062/$File/G0113724.doc?OpenElement
  5. ^ "1988 Constitution made racism a crime with no right to bail", Folha de São Paulo, 15/04/2005.
  6. ^ http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/ShowFullDoc/cs/H-6///en#aSec12
  7. ^ Article 174. of Croatian penal code on Croatian Wikisource
  8. ^ Danish Penal code, Straffeloven, section 266 B.
  9. ^ Finnish Penal code Rikoslaki/Strafflagen Chapter 11, section 8
  10. ^ Law of 29 July 1881 on the freedom of the press, amended; article 24 punishes incitation to hatred, discrimination or violence; article 32 punishes libel, article 33 public insults.
  11. ^ Loi du 1er juillet 1972 relative à la lutte contre le racismePDF, Légifrance
  12. ^ Law of 29 July 1881 on the freedom of the press, article 24
  13. ^ Law of 29 July 1881 on the freedom of the press, article 24 bis
  14. ^ Taylor Wessing: Details
  15. ^ Houellebecq Acquitted of Insulting Islam
  16. ^ Extracts from the ruling
  17. ^ JURIST - Paper Chase: France newspaper cleared of defamation for Muhammad cartoons republication
  18. ^ see the French wikipedia article Affaire des propos de Bruno Gollnisch d'octobre 2004
  19. ^ Bruce Crumley, 'Is Brigitte Bardot Bashing Islam?' Time, Tuesday, April 15, 2008.
  20. ^ Irish Statute Book Database
  21. ^ "Jordanian poet accused of 'atheism and blasphemy'," The Daily Star Lebanon Saturday, October 25, 2008.
  22. ^ BBC report on Geert Wilders
  23. ^ Norwegian Penal code, Straffeloven, section 135 a.
  24. ^ Serbian Penal code, section 317.
  25. ^ "Act No. 4 of 2000: Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act." (PDF). Government Gazette. 2000-02-09. http://www.info.gov.za/gazette/acts/2000/a4-00.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  26. ^ Clark, DM (2003). South African Law Reform Commission Issue Paper 22 Project 130: Stalking. [1]: South African Law Commission. ISBN 0-621-34410-9. 
  27. ^ Hanti, Otto (2006-08-09). "Man fined after racial slur to top judge". IOL. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20060808233813336C803510. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  28. ^ Swedish Penal code, Brottsbalken, chapter 16, section 8.
  29. ^ Lag om hets mot folkgrupp innefattar homosexuella
  30. ^ The Local, 29 Nov 2005: Åke Green cleared over gay sermon
  31. ^ "Basel verbiete jede Diffamierung von Juden und Judentum" (in German) (PDF). Vienna: Die Stimme - Jüdische Zeitung. 1934-12-14. http://edocs.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/volltexte/2008/38044/original/Stimme_409.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  32. ^ Criminal Justice And Immigration Act 2008
  33. ^ Unfettered Press: Libel Law in the United States
  34. ^ US CODE: Title 18,2101. Riots
  35. ^ Hate speech or free speech? What much of West bans is protected in U.S. - The New York Times
  36. ^ Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson
  37. ^ firstamendmentcenter.org: Free speech on public college campuses - Topic
  38. ^ SpringerLink - Journal Article

External links

Simple English

Hate speech is communicating in a way that is meant to offend and hurt somebody. It is usually based on a factor such as somebody's race, gender, ethnic group, sexual orientation, or religion. [1] Some places have laws that make it illegal to use hate speech. Countries such as Canada, France and Germany have stricter laws against hate speech than the United States, where hate speech is usually legal because its Constitution says that people have freedom of speech. [2]


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