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Norway introduces new LGBT law, jailing people for “hate speech,” even in private conversations

Free speech supporters have spoken out against it.
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Norway’s parliament has passed a law illegalizing so-called “hate speech” against people who identify as transgender and bisexual. Critics fear that the law could be used to suppress critical speech.

On Tuesday, the parliament of Norway expanded the penal code aiming to protect homosexual people from discrimination to include bisexual and transgender people. Private conversations involving “hate speech” against these protected groups could mean one year in jail, while public hate speech has a maximum sentence of three years.

“I’m very relieved actually, because (the lack of legal protection) has been an eyesore for trans people for many, many years,” vice president of the Association of Transgender People in Norway Birna Rorslett said to Reuters.

According to the Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Maeland, transgender individuals are “an exposed group when it comes to discrimination, harassment, and violence.”

“It is imperative that the protection against discrimination offered by the criminal legislation is adapted to the practical situations that arise,” she told Reuters on Tuesday before the law was passed.

However, according to critics, the law could potentially suppress free speech criticizing LGBTQ+ rights.

“There are a lot of very hateful things you can say about protected groups,” said Annie Kierulf, a law professor at the University of Oslo. She implied that the law is quite ambiguous on what qualifies as hate speech.

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