Irish Government seek public's views on new hate speech consultation

The Department of Justice and Equality has launched phase one of new consultation process to hear people's views on new hate crime and hate speech laws.

Minister for Justice and Equality, bus drivers, and sports players standing in front of a bus as part of hate speech consultation launch.

The Government have launched the first consultation phase seeking the public’s perspective as part of updating laws regarding hate speech in Ireland

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and Minister of State, David Stanton TD, launched the new consultation process at Dublin Bus, Conyngham Road. Minister Flanagan said, “This abuse can take place anywhere – on the street, on public transport, on the sports field, online and everywhere in between. I want to make clear that this is not acceptable to the Government and not acceptable to the people of Ireland.”

Consultations on hate speech will run until the 13th of December. There are three ways for people to have their voice heard: 1) An online questionnaire, 2) Workshops to hear from various communities, 3) public call for detailed submissions. The online questionnaire is available at the following link:

Phase one of the new process is appealing for the public’s perspective on hate speech. Minister Flanagan spoke of the importance of this: “My aim in this entire process is to ensure that anyone who is subject to hate speech, or indeed an incident of hate crime, can be clear that they are fully supported by the laws of the land.”

Minister Flanagan further stated, “Hearing of people’s direct personal experiences will help the legislative and policy experts in my Department to draft new laws that are robust, clearly understood and capable of delivering justice where these unacceptable incidents occur. Importantly, the consultation will also explore people’s attitudes to the responsibilities of those who play an active part in spreading or distributing hate speech.”

In 2020, the second phase will be launched in relation to the introduction of Hate Crime legislation in Ireland. At present, Ireland does not have a law dealing with hate crimes. The Department for Justice and Equality is aiming to finalise research in November to bring forward proposals on new legislation.

Violence against the LGBT+ community has been steadily rising in Ireland, as in recent weeks there has been two separate homophobic motivated attacks. On November 6th, there will be a kissing protest outside the Dail to protest the lack of Hate Crime legislation, as stated on the events page: “These crimes have a ripple effect across the whole LGBTI+ community.”

As highlighted in the ‘Burning Issues 2’ survey published in 2016, Hate Crime law is the number one priority for the LGBT+ community in a post-marriage referendum Ireland. Recently, a petition titled Love Not Hate: Unite to legislate against hate crime emerged online with 9,895 signatures, in which it states: “We want to help break the silence on hate crime, encourage people to report racism and other hate attacks and to find effective ways to address it.”

Migrant Integration Strategy will also undergo further developments to strengthen its anti-racist focus. The new Anti-Racism Committee is planned to begin their work soon so that every possible measure is taken to prevent racism. 

These are crucial first steps towards recognising the diversity in Ireland and ensuring that each community can feel safe in their everyday lives. By opening the legislation to public opinion, people who have suffered due to hate speech and hate crime can be heard and each community can help shape effective legislation.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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