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Protest the Government’s Hate Speech Bill.

Naughton has been a strong proponent of the Bill and has lobbied for social media companies like Facebook to collect government-issued identification including PPS numbers. Placards provided.

Bring friends & family. Placards will be provided.

Our Petition

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is, without mandate, attempting to introduce legislation that will patently undermine the fundamental right of speech in Ireland.

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The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 is currently at the third Seanad stage of the legislative process.

The purported aim of the legislation is to tackle hateful speech, however it is extreme in measure, poorly defined, and could potentially be used to prosecute minority opinion in Ireland.

A failed policy in the UK, this will empower Gardaí to pursue and prosecute any statement perceived to be prejudiced.

This is a waste of valuable Garda time and resources and contrary to your constitutional freedoms.

As recently as 2018 we affirmed the right to free speech in the Blasphemy Referendum. This move is a step backward to an Ireland none of us want.

Furthermore, it is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that freedom of speech is a human right.

So called Hate Speech laws are a savage hypocrisy: they would do more to divide communities in Ireland by highlighting that they are different by treating them differently under the law.

Free Speech Ireland is an organisation that is fighting against these proposed laws and is appealing to McEntee to reverse these plans.

The Incitement to Hatred and Hate Crime Bill is an affront to Irish democracy. Sign the petition to bin the Bill.

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The Hate Speech Bill, formally the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, has become one of the most controversial bills in Irish history.

We are concerned that ill-defined and unclear aspects of the Bill will in effect result in limitations being placed on people’s right to freedom of expression.
We would like to draw attention to the following sections in particular:

The provision outlined in Section 7(1)(a) of the Irish Hate Speech Bill sets a troubling precedent by establishing that an individual could be deemed guilty of an offense through the act of “communicating material to the public or a section of the public.” This overly broad language not only criminalises individuals accountable for their own statements but extends liability to the mere sharing of content on social media, regardless of whether it was initially published by another user in a different country or jurisdiction.

The ambiguity within Part 3 of this section, relying on terms like “genuine” or “reasonable,” introduces subjective criteria as a defence. This ambiguity poses significant risks, potentially subjecting individuals to fines or imprisonment for up to five years based on vague and subjective judgments. Such provisions not only threaten freedom of expression but also create an environment where individuals might self-censor to avoid legal repercussions, stifling open discourse and undermining the principles of free speech and democratic values.

Section 8 of the Irish Hate Speech Bill, while aiming to address communication related to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, presents significant flaws. Its broad scope concerning the communication of material fails to account for situations where individuals share historical articles or news items that don’t necessarily align with contemporary societal views in Ireland. This oversight risks subjecting individuals to prosecution merely for sharing content that doesn’t reflect current perspectives. Moreover, it overlooks the sharing of material from foreign cultures or countries, disregarding the differences in worldviews and potentially penalising individuals for content that may be acceptable or normal in other contexts. This lack of nuance and consideration for historical or cultural differences in Section 8 could lead to the stifling of diverse perspectives and the imposition of legal consequences on individuals for innocuous sharing of information that may not align with prevailing societal norms.

Under this section a person may be found guilty irrespective of whether communication of material or behaviour was successful in inciting another person to violence or hatred. This would penalise individuals as a result of gross speculation.

The possession of material which is not considered “reasonable” or a “genuine contribution” shall be an offence. As with Section 7, these are subjective criteria and are deeply concerning as the Bill does not establish what is considered a “reasonable” or “genuine contribution”. It is vital that lawful expression is not restricted by the Government.

There is a concerning limited and ill-defined “Protection Of Freedom Of Expression” afforded by the Bill in Section 11.
This section is no more than four lines, and does not establish clear protections for Freedom of Speech.

The inclusion of Section 13 in the Hate Speech Bill poses a concerning scenario whereby managers and executives within corporations could face charges for hate offences solely based on the actions of their employees, such as instances of hate speech or possession of hateful material. This provision not only holds individuals in higher positions accountable for the actions of their subordinates but also creates a precarious legal landscape. It places an undue burden on managerial personnel, potentially penalising them for the actions they may not have directly influenced or condoned. This extension of liability beyond the immediate perpetrating individual raises significant ethical and legal concerns. It undermines the fundamental principles of justice, fairness, and individual responsibility, painting an unfair picture of managerial accountability. Such a broad interpretation of liability risks discouraging individuals from assuming leadership roles and can stifle productive management practices within corporations.

We recommend that legislators reject the Bill in its current form.

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We’re a small team of volunteers that delivers big wins.

For over two years now, we’ve successfully campaigned against the Hate Speech Bill and championed Freedom of Speech in Ireland. We’re committed to continuing the fight going forward.

We rely on the contributions from people across our country to fight this fight. Raising awareness about the threats to Freedom of speech is even more important now than it was before.

Thank you for your support,

The Team at Free Speech Ireland