From Iceland — Warns Against Hate Speech Law

Warns Against Hate Speech Law

Published November 7, 2013

A change to Icelandic law designed to protect transfolk from hate speech could put limits on freedom of expression, an OSCE official says.
Iceland recently changed Article 233a of the Icelandic Penal Code to include the text emboldened here: “Anyone who in a ridiculing, slanderous, insulting, threatening or any other manner publicly assaults a person or a group of people on the basis of their nationality, skin colour, race, religion, sexual orientation or sexual identity, shall be fined or jailed for up to 2 years.”
This change is designed to protect transfolk from harrassment and hate speech, but the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is not pleased. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, while attending a conference in Vienna on the media, told attendees:
“Free speech should not be criminalized. The right to express opinions is a universal and basic human right; it must be upheld and protected, and only restricted to instances of intentional and dangerous incitement to violence. Even speech that we find offensive and abhorrent, painful or provocative must be allowed to be heard. I ask the members of the Icelandic parliament to reconsider and to reject this amendment as it could limit freedom of expression.”

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