Hate crimes & hate speech

You have every right to enjoy your life without facing hate crimes and/or hate speech. Unfortunately, hate crimes and instances of hate speech are a daily occurrence and are committed by individuals and even public officials. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify cases of hate crime and hate speech and to know how to defend your rights.

Hate speech and hate crimes have certain similar characteristics. Namely, both are motivated by hatred or intolerance against individuals or groups based on certain attributes. 

Hate speech is any form of incitement, spreading or justification of hate or violence against individuals or groups based on certain attributes. It is not protected by freedom of expression. This means that the state can lawfully prevent and punish expressions of hate speech.

example A group of people held an public meeting near a local church where they shouted slurs aimed at Christians.

Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by bias towards certain groups in society. These crimes differ from other crimes because of the motive.

example A gay couple’s apartment was broken into and trashed. The perpetrator left a note containing homophobic slurs.

Hate crimes and hate speech & Human rights

Hate crimes and hate speech are contrary to the basic values of a democratic society. They invite or justify intolerance against certain people on the basis of the idea that these people should be treated less favourably due to certain attributes. Many human rights may be affected in situations of hate crimes or the expression of hate speech. For example, the right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and the right to private and family life.

About this Guide

This Guide explains how you can recognize hate crimes and hate speech, also, your rights where you find yourself experiencing a hate crime or face hate speech.

Last updated 22/11/2023