By Marica Micallef.
The sentence against Fr David Muscat is a threat to our freedom of our expression. Point blank. And this is also a worry considering what has just happened in Ireland where a new anti-hate speech legislation has sparked debate.
The updated legislation will establish landmark laws to combat hate crimes, make denying or trivializing genocide an offense, and broaden protections to include gender identity and disability. Opponents of the Criminal Justice Bill are concerned that the changes will go too far and stifle free speech. However, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, who introduced the bill now being debated in the country’s Parliament (Oireachtas), rebuffed claims that speech would be restricted.
According to Euronews, “The new law will introduce specific legislation to tackle hate crimes, which it considers intentional or reckless communication and behaviour that is likely to incite violence or hatred, establishing penalties of up to five years in prison.
Victims of hate crimes are targeted due to prejudice against their age, ability, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or gender.”
It will also make it much easier for prosecutors to secure convictions for hate crimes by allowing them to rely on hostile slurs, gestures, or symbols. Critics are concerned that the changes will result in the censorship of politically incorrect viewpoints, such as those concerning transgender rights. Some public figures have chimed in, with Donald Trump Jr. calling the new law “insane.”