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Ireland’s Hate Speech Bill Faces Backlash Amidst Authoritarian Fears

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Ireland’s proposed hate speech legislation has sparked strong opposition amongst many of its citizens, with individuals complaining to their representatives about the potential risk of the country descending into an authoritarian police state, according to documents obtained by through a Freedom of Information request.

Critics of the proposed bill, dubbed the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, have expressed ambiguity around the definitions of hate and gender within the legislation.

The Taoiseach, Simon Harris, is resolute in modifying the Bill, which primarily seeks to revamp the 1989 incitement to hatred legislation, and pass it through successfully before the ensuing general elections.

Critics contend that the Bill’s primary aim to count “hate” as an aggravating element in certain offenses is fraught with a lack of clarity.

An alarming constituent email, forwarded to the Department of Justice by Fine Gael’s Michael Ring, a vocal opponent of the proposed law, emphasized that the Bill infringes on personal constitutional freedoms. The specific email highlighted the significant powers conferred on the police due to Section 15 of the Bill, arguing that such state control was reminiscent of a police state.

Moreover, Ring relayed a multitude of similar constituent concerns to the justice minister, seeking an urgent response from him. Meanwhile, Senator Michael McDowell raised the question of whether transgender is a gender in Irish law and requested clarity on the term’s legislative definition.

Numerous emails exposed further condemnation of the proposed laws and raised concerns about the potential implications they could have on freedom of speech.

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