EU looking to criminalise LGBTQ+ hate speech

The European Commission is presenting a proposal today, which plans to extend the list of EU crimes to include hate speech.

A sign that reads,
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This week, the European Commission is presenting a proposal that aims to protect women, LGBTQ+ people, and other minorities from hate speech in the EU. It is expected that the group will sign off on this plan to criminalise hate speech on Wednesday, December 8.

According to Politico who saw a draft plan, the rules would enable the Commission to put develop laws that punish misogyny and anti-LGBTQ+ abuse both on and offline.

The document reads: “In the last decades, there has been a sharp rise in hate speech and hate crime in Europe […] Hate is moving into the mainstream, targeting individuals and groups of people sharing or perceived as sharing ‘a common characteristic,’ such as race, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics or any fundamental characteristic, or a combination of such characteristics.

It is expected that another proposal will be presented in March 2022, which will specifically aim to fight violence against women in the digital and offline world. In addition to that, the Digital Services Act is being developed, which would require online organisations to more forcefully prohibit illegal content.

There is a particular focus on fighting hate speech online within the EU, as the Commission says, “[the internet] makes it easier for hate groups to widen their audiences to countries facing similar political or social situations.” A survey published in 2018 by the Inter Parliamentary Union revealed that 47% of European female politicians reported having received death, rape, or beating threats on social media.

However, it is predicted that this new proposal will have an uphill battle to face when it comes to certain countries within the EU. Among those are Hungary and Poland, where their treatment of minorities including the LGBTQ+ community has left much to be desired in recent years. 

The text said that the current lack of hate speech regulations “may send mixed messages to the public that such acts are not being taken seriously and can be perpetrated with impunity.” It also added that those countries which do not criminalise the practice, leave “gaps and an uneven protection of the victims of such acts across the EU.”

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