Last week, in a worrying development for freedom of speech in Europe, the European Parliament voted to add hate speech and hate crime to the list of ‘EU Crimes’, writes Laurie Wastell for the Brussels Signal.
EU Crimes, such as terrorism and human trafficking, are those considered “particularly serious” in the eyes of Brussels and that also have a “cross-border dimension”. For EU Crimes, Brussels can establish minimum criminal offences and sanctions which must apply across the bloc, suspending the usual EU principle of subsidiarity.
Given that EU-wide rules already criminalise hate speech committed on the basis of race, skin colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, one could be forgiven for thinking an extension of the law would not be necessary.
But the EU is facing “new social dynamics”, says Renew rapporteur Maite Pagazaurtundúa, in which “hate” is allegedly being “normalised”, meaning a tougher legal framework is needed.
Accordingly, the new law will extend the definition of hate crimes across Europe to include “sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, age [and] disability”.
While Pagazaurtundúa claims that the new provisions will still “[guarantee] citizens’ freedom of expression”, the inclusion of some of these categories will likely impinge on much legitimate speech.
A protection on gender identity, for instance, would likely criminalise many kinds of perfectly sensible gender-critical speech – speech that denies that how one identifies can alter one’s biological sex, the central tenet of transgender ideology.
This would have gravely censorious implications. For instance, in Britain, where police forces have long been stewing in transgender ideology, campaigners have been arrested for saying on social media that “transwomen are men”.
On top of this, protections against hate speech on the grounds of such broad categories as sex, sexual orientation and even age and disability will surely have European citizens walking on eggshells for all kinds of everyday speech.
Worth reading in full.