Irish government’s hate speech bill promotes ‘thought crime law’


Irish authorities are pushing for legislation to criminalize dissemination and possession of content deemed hateful. Elon Musk has warned that the move is a threat to free speech in the country.

Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hate and Hate Crimes) Bill 2022 (pdf) to “amend the Act on the Prohibition of Violence or Incitement to Hatred against Individuals or Groups of Individuals on the Basis of Certain Characteristics (referred to as Protected Characteristics) of Individuals or Groups of Individuals, to Commit Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes that condone, deny, or significantly minimize crimes against humanity or crimes against peace.”

It aims to “combat certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia through criminal law.”

The bill classifies “race, color, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, sexual characteristics, sexual orientation, and disability” for protection.

Gender is “the gender of a person, or the gender that a person describes as that person’s preferred gender, or the gender that a person identifies and includes in transgender and other genders than men and women.”

The bill would give Irish authorities the power to convict suspected hate crimes. According to the bill, an individual “(i) communicates material to the public or part of the public; Inciting violence or hatred against the group.

“This is a massive attack on free speech,” Musk said in a statement on April 30. Tweet In response to an organization called Free Speech Ireland, which criticized the Irish government for voting against the “Human Rights and Literally Thought Crimes Act”.

An amendment to include the UN Convention on the Protection of Human Rights on Freedom of Speech into the Hate Speech Bill was rejected. Another amendment that would allow a section to allow individuals in possession of offensive material to be prosecuted without telling it was also rejected.

This means Irish authorities can arrest anyone who is simply in possession of material deemed likely to incite hatred if disseminated.

Any person found guilty of violating a provision of the bill shall be liable to pay a fine or imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both.

burden of proof

The law also shifts the burden of proof onto the accused. April 26th speech In the House of Commons of Ireland, Dublin South West elected MP Paul Murphy said section 10 of the bill “creates the possibility that someone could be criminalized simply for possessing hateful material”. warned. public. “

“That’s the problem. That’s the fundamental problem with this bill. It’s the creation of a ‘thoughtcrime.'”

“In paragraph 3, the defendant may use material that he created, or even material that was merely in his possession, if it is reasonable to assume that the material is not intended for personal use. , said he would be held to the burden of proving his innocence by demonstrating that it was not intended for personal use.It was intended to be communicated publicly,” Murphy said.

“Within Section 10, thoughtcrime is created, and there is a dangerous reversal of the burden of proof, placing the burden on the defendant to overturn the presumption that the material was not intended for personal use. is a problem.”

religious issues

The Irish Constitution protects freedom of religion as long as public order and morality are observed. Some fear that the new hate speech bill will undermine religious freedom.

For example, priests may have opinions on subjects such as gender and gender identity that may be viewed as violating the provisions of the new bill, and thereby threaten prosecution.

The country’s progressive government is pushing the bill. The law is now in the second stage of the legislative approval process, and he has three more steps before he can sign it into law.

a petition, run by Free Speech Ireland, is calling for a law banning hate speech in the country, warning that the law “clearly undermines the fundamental right to speech” in the country.

“The so-called hate speech laws are barbaric hypocrisy. They should do more to divide Irish communities by highlighting that they are different and should be treated differently under the law.”