(LifeSiteNews) — The Irish Minister of Justice presented a new bill that would criminalize “hate speech,” and make an offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison, raising fears of government censorship.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that she wants to “assure the public that we have worked hard to strike a balance in this Bill in protecting the right to free speech with protection of vulnerable and minority communities from dangerous hate speech.”
“There are protections for freedom of expression built into this legislation,” McEntee continued. “But ultimately, hate speech is not about free speech. Hate speech is designed to shut people down, to shut them up, to make them afraid to say who they are and to exclude and isolate them. There is nothing free about that, and there is, frankly, no place for it in our society.”
The press release by the Irish Department of Justice states that “[t]he new legislation will criminalise any intentional or reckless communication or behaviour that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or persons because they are associated with a protected characteristic,” and that the “penalty for this offence will be up to five years’ imprisonment.”
The “protected characteristics” in the proposed law are race, color, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, and disability.
The new legislation does offer a “protection of freedom of expression” if the “material or behaviour” in question only “involves discussion or criticism of matters relating to a protected characteristic.”
The bill also created “new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by hatred of a protected characteristic,” which will “carry an enhanced penalty and the criminal record will clearly state that the offence was a hate crime.”
“This Bill provides separately for hate crime and for hate speech, but on the basis of the same protected characteristics,” McEntee stated.
Before taking effect, the proposed legislation has to “be passed by both the Dáil [Irish Lower House] and the Seanad [Irish Upper House] before it can be enacted and signed into law by the President.”
“The government is committed to ensuring that this happens before the end of 2022,” the Department of Justice press release added.
According to the government agency’s press release, “[t]he provisions of the new legislation have been crafted to ensure that they will capture hate speech in an online context.”
The new legislation will also be linked closely with the “Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill,” especially “in a social media environment,” and regulate the “role that companies will play in managing hate speech on their platforms.”
Legislations against so-called “hate speech” and “hate crimes,” raise concerns of targeted censorship by governments or big tech corporations, as the interpretation of what constitutes “hate” is subjective and can be very arbitrary.
Recently a woman in the U.K. was threatened with arrest for an alleged “hate crime” because she spoke at a rally against transgenderism.
People who defend traditional marriage and oppose the LGBT agenda have been extensively accused of “hate speech.”
A young woman in Australia was fired from her job a few years ago for opposing same-sex “marriage” and a Finnish Member of Parliament was charged with “hate speech” and faced imprisonment for sharing her views on marriage and sexual ethics online. Police investigation against the Finnish MP started in 2019 and she was cleared on all charges in March 2022.
Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said in 2015 that anyone who supports traditional marriage is being labeled “a homophobe and a hater,” and warned that “the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech….”