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What is hate speech?

What is hate speech?

by Admin User - Number of replies: 0

In common language, “hate speech” refers to offensive discourse targeting a group or an individual based on inherent characteristics (such as race, religion or gender) and that may threaten social peace.

To provide a unified framework for the United Nations to address the issue globally, the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech defines hate speech as…any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor.”

However, to date there is no universal definition of hate speech under international human rights law. The concept is still under discussion, especially in relation to freedom of opinion and expression, non-discrimination and equality.

While the above is not a legal definition and is broader than “incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” – which is prohibited under international human rights law -- it has three important attributes:

It’s important to note that hate speech can only be directed at individuals or groups of individuals. It does not include communication about States and their offices, symbols or public officials, nor about religious leaders or tenets of faith.