1. How can we prevent hate speech without restricting freedom of speech?
Even though each person has the right to freedom of speech, they also have the right to freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination and freedom from fear, harassment or abuse. These rights are enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and all of these rights must be balanced with one another. One person’s right to freedom of speech should not take away another person’s right to freedom from discrimination.
For more information about our rights to free speech and how they relate to hate speech, you can check out Article 19’s “Hate Speech Explained Guide”.
2. Is online hate speech illegal?
Yes, in some cases online hate speech can be illegal. In Australia, the Racial Discrimination Act makes discrimination and racial hatred against the law. Racial hatred refers to a public act based on a person’s race, nationality, or ethnicity which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate. This also applies to racially offensive material on the Internet, including blogs, social networking sites and video sharing sites.
Similarly, the Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. Laws against vilifying LGBTI people differ state by state.
For more information, please see the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website.
3. Is cyberbullying the same as hate speech?
Yes and no. Cyberbullies may use hate speech against their victims, but not all cyberbullying is motivated by identity-based hate. If the cyberbully is attacking someone because of their race, religion, sexuality or nationality then that is considered hate speech.
4. Is trolling the same as hate speech?
To be considered hate speech the expression must be based on a person’s protected characteristics, and this is not always the case.
5. Is hate speech the same as discrimination?
No, but the two are often interconnected. Discrimination refers to an action that is based on race, ethnicity or other protected characteristics. For example, deciding not to give someone a job because of their race is a discriminatory practice. Hate speech is a form of communication. At times it may call for certain discriminatory actions, but other times it may simply be expressing anger or inciting violence against others.
6. How can I get more involved in this issue?
If you’re interested in doing more to support victims of hate speech and want to do something about online hate speech in Australia, you can get in touch with one of these groups:
Groups that support migrants and refugees