SAPRA supports Hate Speech / Crime Bill

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has published the draft of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill for public comment. “The Bill provides for the offence of hate crimes and the offence of hate speech and the prosecution of persons who commit those crimes.” [0]

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance welcomes the criminalisation of hate crimes and hate speech. We must emphasize that this Bill does not criminalise freedom of speech, only speech and actions which seek to cause harm to others based on one or more prohibited grounds.

The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 defines hate speech as:

“No person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to:
be hurtful;
be harmful or to incite harm;
promote or propagate hatred.”

“prohibited grounds” include race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth. [1]

The Hate Speech / Crimes Bill confirms this definition:

“Offence of hate speech s4 (1) (a) Any person who intentionally, by means of any communication whatsoever, communicates to one or more persons in a manner that –
( i ) advocates hatred towards any other person or group of persons; or 
( ii ) is threatening, abusive or insulting towards any other person or group of persons, and which demonstrates a clear intention , having regard to all the circumstances, to – 
(a ) incite others to harm any person or group of persons, whether or not such person or group of persons is harmed; or 
( b ) stir up violence against, or ***bring into contempt or ridicule , any person or group of persons, based on race, gender, sex , which includes intersex , ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture, language, birth, disability, HIV status, nationality, gender identity, albinism or occupation or trade, is guilty of the offence of hate speech.”
[2]

Concerns therefore raised by some regarding the consequences of this Bill for freedom of speech in general are largely misplaced. The Bill (as Act) will not prevent freedom of expression, speech, artistic creativity or academic freedom.

Section 16 of the Constitution reads “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research…[ ] …The right … does not extend to propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” [3]

Section 16 remains in place and may not be changed by the proposed Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

 

Resources:

[0] Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill
http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/bills/2016-HateCrimes-HateSpeechBill.pdf

[1] Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act
http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/acts/2000-004.pdf

[2] Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill

[3] Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Chapter 2, section 16.

 

SAPRA Press