The EU Commission aims to expand the list of EU crimes to include hate speech and hate crime.
Our freedom of expression may be at risk through the inclusion of “gender identity”. Women who are concerned about gender identity ideology only became aware of this initiative very recently.
Immediate action needed please: deadline 11 p.m. Tuesday 20thApril. Please go online to have your say here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12872-Hate-speech-hate-crime-inclusion-on-list-of-EU-crimes
Please note that you can contribute anonymously.
Roadmap published by the EU Commission
“Its objective is to have hate speech and hate crime identified as ‘other areas of crime’. Both are particularly serious crimes, which can spread across borders. Developments in crime also justify their inclusion on this list.”
It adds however that
"It does not prejudge the final decision of the Commission on whether this initiative will be pursued or on its final content"
It's important to put in comments to this consultation as it is an attempt to restrict the right to freedom of speech (called by lawyers freedom of expression).
You can put in anything you want, personal experience, personal ideas and opinions, facts that you know, things written, expert and otherwise that are relevant. You can also attach material (check allowed formats).
Current situation of concern to women
By the end of this year the Commission plans an initiative to extend the list of EU crimes in Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to cover hate speech and hate crime.
“Legal protection varies significantly across the EU. At present, 21 Member States expressly include sexual orientation in hate speech and/or crime legislation as an aggravating factor, whilst 12 amongst them also include gender identity and 2 cover sex characteristics.”
The inclusion in the list of EU crimes of hate speech and hate crime on grounds of sex and sexual orientation was announced in the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 and in the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025.
While sexual orientation is already well understood as needing protection, the addition of “gender identity” can be traced to the adoption of the Yogyakarta Principles* which are not binding on States despite being regularly cited, in Ireland as elsewhere, e.g. in the 2018 Gender Recognition Act Review Group report.
One of the original signatories to the principles, Professor Robert Wintemute, has recently said of their drafting that “Women’s rights weren’t raised.” As explained in The Critic magazine this month
"The Principles merge lesbian and gay rights with the right to protection and expression of 'gender identity'. They provide a foundation for the view that 'gender identity' — based on the feelings of an individual — trumps biological sex."
Some points you might like to make:
Lack of awareness of this initiative
Art 19 of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights says that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Eight weeks is far too short as a consultation period for the public to make their views known on such a fundamental and serious encroachment on our freedom of expression. Only eight (8) people or organisations had provided feedback up to a week ago which confirms our belief that this consultation has not been widely disseminated.
- We were not made aware of this consultation or proposal to criminalise hate speech.
- What other forms of consultation have been held?
- We strongly object to this extension of power over speech and serious inroads into freedom of expression without adequate demonstration of the need for same in particular with regard to “gender identity”.
This roadmap confuses existing terms such as “sex” and “gender”
- How can one criminalize activities on the basis of “gender identity”, a self-held belief, compared with sex, which is biological and real?
- How can stakeholders such as citizens of the EU be consulted on this initiative if there is no adequate definition for “gender identity”?
- What is meant by “sex characteristics”? Can sex characteristics be explained without reference to sex? Does it mean sex-stereotyped clothing or behaviours, which under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) or the Istanbul Convention State parties are committed to removing?
- How can States which are party to these Conventions make law on the basis of sex characteristics?
Women are adult human females and are oppressed on the basis of our sex
'This initiative will complement the work on a legislative proposal on preventing and combating gender-based violence against women and domestic violence that the Commission plans for end 2021, as announced in Commission Work Programme 2021, by creating an additional legal basis for addressing those specific forms of serious gender-based violence that can also be defined as hate speech or hate crime on grounds of gender.'
- Why is the term gender used here? The appropriate term is sex or women and men in the UN CEDAW and in the Istanbul Convention.
- Why this switch from those international texts and other parts of this document?
- Consultation papers need to be understandable to those who read them.
- The appropriate term is “sex”, or women and men, in the UN CEDAW, which Ireland is bound by as a signatory, and in the Istanbul Convention which we are also party to.
- It is crucial that laws, particularly criminal laws, make sense to the general public, who are supposed to comply with them.
Freedom of Expression
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights explicitly refers to three components:
1. The freedom to hold opinions, which is a prior condition to the other freedoms guaranteed by Article 10 and enjoys an absolute protection in the sense that the possible restrictions set forth in Article 10 (2) are inapplicable to it. In substance it means that the State must not try to indoctrinate its citizens and that the State may not distinguish between those holding specific opinions and others.
2. The freedom to receive information and ideas which includes the right to gather information and to seek information through all possible lawful sources. Even if Art. 10 does not guarantee a general right of access to information, the European Court of Human Rights has consistently recognised that the public has a right to receive information of general interest and that particularly strong reasons must be provided for any measure limiting access to information which the public may receive.
3. Freedom of Expression includes the freedom to impart information and ideas, which is of the greatest importance for the political life and the democratic structure of a country.
Consultation with citizens and stakeholders
“The specialised data and information that can enable an assessment of whether hate speech and hate crime meet the criteria of Article 83(1) TFEU can only be provided by public authorities and key organisations working in this area, and not by individuals. Moreover, in the case of hate crime/speech, it is relevant to measure their impact on the groups that experience such conducts, and such impact is measured in dedicated surveys such as those carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). These reasons warrant conducting targeted consultations of stakeholders – rather than an open public consultation.”
In Ireland we have no publicly funded body to represent the interests of women who know that only adult human females are women and who don't subscribe to gender identity ideology.
An extension of EU crimes to include "gender identity" in hate speech law risks adversely affecting women's rights to freedom of expression.
*See also on this site: What are the Yogyakarta Principles and what do they seek to achieve?