“One day I was driving on a bus when two men and a woman started calling me names, singing offensive songs and making rude gestures at me. Being stared at, talked about and herassed because I am a transgender woman is part of my everyday life, but that doesn’t mean it does not hurt me and that I am okay with it.”
“I was being attacked because of my sexual orientation… I couldn’t take much more. When I lost my long-term partner to cancer I wasn’t able to fully grieve his death because I was herassed and threatened by local youths. In the 18 months leading up to my partner’s death we were regularly subjected to homophobic abuse, for example getting written “pedo” beside our front door.”
Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which spread, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or a group of persons for a variety of reasons, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, physical or mental disability and others.
It poses grave danger for the cohesion of a democratic society, the protection of human rights and the rule of law. If left unaddressed, it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a wider scale. In this sense hate speech is an extreme form of intolerance which contributes to hate crime.
A balance must be kept between fighting hate speech on the one hand and safeguarding freedom of speech on the other, but criminal force is necessary when hate speech incites violence against individuals or groups of people.
Victims rarely report incidents to the authorities for fear of retaliation or of not being taken seriously, or because they have no confidence in the justice system. This contributes to lack of data which makes it difficult to quantify the extent of the problem and take effective measures to address it.
An effective approach by tackling hate speech is self-regulation by public and private institutions, media and the Internet, and also education and raising public awareness of the importance of respecting pluralism and of the dangers posed by hate speech. For example, ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) is recommending in the present states to provide practical support to those targeted by hate speech and violence: they should be made aware of their rights to redress through administrative, civil and criminal proceedings and encouraged to report to the authorities and receive legal and psychological assistance.
True story about hate speech:
To remember the first day when I decided not to go to class anymore. I was in my last year of college before finishing my journalism degree but I was willing to sacrifice my entire career. To have told all my teachers that I didn’t want to attend classes anymore because I have developed some kind of social phobia. It was true I didn’t want to be in contact with anyone anymore, but nobody asked me the reason.
A boy. The boy from my class was the real reason. He was using hate speech towards me. But at that time I didn’t understand it was an actual hate speech. He started to write a blog through which he shared the content in social media. He didn’t use my name but everybody knew those killing words were written exactly for me. If you’re wondering what was the reason for it, I can only tell you he was madly in love with me.
We had met 3 years ago. He had confessed to me that since the first day he saw me he was in love with me. He told me that he didn’t need anything else but to see me, so that his life would make any sense. I became the most important person in his life, even though he knew from the start that we would be only friends. The problem became even more serious when I started dating one of his friends.
He was very hurt. He felt as if his friend had stolen something from him. As if he had lost some kind of battle and now he felt devastated. That’s why he started with writing the blog, shooting words towards me. And sometimes words do more harm than any used gun. He felt a lot of hate.
The whole class started reading the blog. They waited till the end of the week to read a new post. The blog created morbidity and everyone had some kind of opinion. But nobody did anything. And that was the reason why I didn’t want to go to class anymore at that time. Later I realized I didn’t even want to leave my own house anymore. I couldn’t even tell the truth to my parents, so I lied to them. They simply thought I was unmotivated about the work while in reality I was depressed. I didn’t want to have contact with anyone, so I decided to go to the psychologist.
Because of the situation my life changed completely. I started having an allergic reaction on my skin when I talked to someone. I stopped pursuing my dream about working on a television because I wouldn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. I changed my personal character and lost my smile.
Now, 3 years later, I am able to see the situation differently. Nobody including me realized back then it was actually a hate speech and I wasn’t strong enough to face the happening. But now I am aware it was a hate speech.