A new and improved Bill to combat hate crimes and hate speech was published yesterday, October 27, by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and it is expected to become law in Ireland before the end of 2022.
After securing approval from the Cabinet on Tuesday, Minister McEntee shared the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill 2022. If passed, the legislation will make communication or behaviour that is likely to incite hatred on the basis of a series of protected characteristics a criminal offence, with a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Moreover, the law will introduce aggravated forms of existing criminal offences in case such offences are motivated by prejudice against one or more of the protected characteristics. With such change, the penalty for the offences will be enhanced and criminal records will clearly indicate whether someone committed a hate crime.
This new Bill proposes a number of important changes to the General Scheme of the Bill published in April 2021. Among these is the expansion of the list of protected characteristics, which now includes: race; colour; nationality; religion; national or ethnic origin; descent; gender; sex characteristics; sexual orientation; and disability.
In particular, “sex characteristics”, which refers to all physical and biological features of a person relating to sex, was added in recent months following consultation with key stakeholders and to adhere to international best practice.
⚖️New legislation to combat hate crime & hate speech is expected to become law before end of year
@HMcEntee has published the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill 2022, after securing Cabinet approval for the legislation on Tuesday
— Department of Justice 🇮🇪 (@DeptJusticeIRL) October 27, 2022
Moreover, the Bill now includes a general provision to protect freedom of expression and clarifies which forms of communication and behaviour can be considered as incitement to hatred.
“There are protections for freedom of expression built into this legislation,” commented Minister McEntee. “But ultimately, hate speech is not about free speech. Hate speech is designed to shut people down, to shut them up, to make them afraid to say who they are and to exclude and isolate them. There is nothing free about that, and there is, frankly, no place for it in our society.”
The Bill to combat hate crimes and hate speech must now be passed by both the Dáil and the Seanad before it can be signed into law in Ireland by the President. The Irish government stated that they are committed to ensuring that this happens before the end of the year.
🧵The Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland welcomes the announcement that the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill 2022 will be published today. https://t.co/uew0k6H5mB
— ICCLtweet 🏳️🌈 (@ICCLtweet) October 27, 2022
McEntee also added: “We are all horrified when we hear of homophobic, racist, and other hateful incidents in our country. While these repulsive acts of violence and abuse against innocent people have been extensively reported on, we know that some people go about their lives constantly in fear of abuse simply because of who they are.”
She explained that “All provisions throughout the Bill have been carefully developed to ensure it is victim-centred and effective in securing convictions where serious crimes are committed, and the legislation follows extensive public consultation and research.”
The Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland has welcomed the announcement of the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill 2022, stating that such legislation is vital to ensuring that all communities feel safe in the country.
“Hate Crimes send minorities the message they are not welcome in Ireland. Such crimes have a ripple effect, impacting individuals, communities and society as a whole,” the Coalition stated. “It’s essential we introduce effective legislation to send an even clearer message: nobody should be targeted because of who they are. This Bill is therefore very welcome.”
However, the Coalition also stressed how appropriate legislation is just the first step toward combating hate crimes and hate speech. They are calling for a comprehensive national action plan, which should entail measures to change beliefs and attitudes, increase awareness, improve monitoring and reporting and improve support to survivors. Read their full statement here.
© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.
comments. Please sign in to comment.