Hate crime and hate speech can have a severe negative impact on the victim, his or her group and society at large. Definitions of what constitutes a hate crime and hate speech differ according to country and it is acknowledged that there is significant under-reporting of hate crimes, including hate speech. There are also concerns that especially online hate speech, directed towards certain groups (religious, ethnic and sexual minorities) is increasing.
The European Union legislation is contained within the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. This Act compels EU Member States to punish intentional conduct:
- Publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group or individual defined by race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin;
- Commission of such an act by public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material.
In addition the Act states that for offences other than the above, Member States should take necessary measures to ensure that racist and xenophobic motivation is considered an aggravating circumstance or is taken into account by the courts when they determine the penalties for offences. There exists no equivalent document on homophobic and transphobic speech and activity, but many member states have developed national legislation to deal with such issues.
C.O.N.T.A.C.T (Creating an Online Network, monitoring Team and phone App to Counter hate crime Tactics) is a European Union supported project that focuses on hate speech and hate crime of a racist, xenophobic, homophobic or transphobic nature. The project includes partners from Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Spain and UK.
The project has the following aims:
- to set up a hate crime recording website and phone app
- to train and raise awareness among relevant actors such as police and officials, media professionals, youth
- to conduct research into online hate speech and its perception.
- to create a joint university teaching module
Materials relating to the awareness raising and training events, the analytical studies, the university module will be made available on the Legal Framework page of this website.
The website for reporting hate can be found by clicking on the link Report Hate