From Iceland — Police Will Investigate Hate Speech Charges

Police Will Investigate Hate Speech Charges

Published November 10, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

The State Prosecutor’s office has given the green light to capital area police to investigate instances of hate speech against the queer community.

RÚV reports that the National Queer Organisation (Samtökin ’78) welcomed the news, as investigations will now soon be launched against ten individuals accused of violating Iceland’s hate speech laws. The instances of hate speech were made in the form of public comments on social media.

As reported last month, Samtökin ’78 filed charges last April against ten individuals for hateful comments made towards the LGBT community, in public, on social media. However, capital area police decided they would not investigate, and were going to let the charges drop.

In a statement to the press, the organisation criticised the police’s decision, saying that in dropping the charges, the police have denied the courts the ability to have the last word on whether or not the comments made constituted hate speech. For this reason, Samtökin ’78 decided to refer the matter to the State Prosecutor’s office.

“Samtökin ’78 will continue its decades-long fight for the dignity of queer people in Iceland,” the statement read in part. “The organisation is therefore completely prepared to say that if the State Prosecutor does not review the decision of the police, their justifications will be brought under the review of the European Court of Human Rights.”

The comments in question were made on social media in response to news that the town of Hafnarfjörður had decided to start teaching gay studies in town schools.

Article 233(a) of the General Penal Code states: “Anyone who does by means of ridicule, calumniation, insult, threat or otherwise assault [a person or group of persons] on account of their nationality, colour, [race, religion or sexual inclination] shall be subject to fines or imprisonment for up to 2 years.”

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