Push for implementation of Hate, Speech Crimes Bill
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Cape Town - In light of the surge in hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community, the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill has been brought forward by several organisations in protests as a pragmatic solution.
At a discussion about the Bill last week, chief director for GCIS William Baloyi said that the discussion around the implementation of the BIll was prompted by an “extreme surge in violence against the queer community in recent weeks, including the murders of LGBTQI+ community members”.
Talks around the Bill emerged as early as 2009, yet, to date, the Bill has not formally been implemented.
The Bill, which is still before the Department of Justice, aims to give effect to the Republic’s obligations in terms of the Constitution and international human rights which speaks to instruments concerning racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in accordance with international law obligations.
Founder and director of Luleki Sizwe, Ndumie Funda is a 40-year-old gay female activist from Gugulethu who has been a part of several protest movements in support of the LGBTQI+ community. According to Funda, The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill is not new and is something she was a part of as early as 2014.
Following a petition in 2010 that gained more than 200 000 signatures, Funda had a meeting with then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe, to discuss legislation in 2014.
“It was under Jeff Radebe’s leadership, following the first meeting I had with them, the LGBTQI+ national task team was formed, following several protests in front of Parliament. In 2014, several LGBTQI+ programmes were launched.”
Funda expressed frustration that several years later, the implementation of the Bill is still being discussed.
“People are dying in numbers, getting raped, killed and mutilated while our government sits on legislation. We need answers as to how far we are with the implementation of the Hate Crime Bill.”
A report released by Sonke Gender Justice unpacked the advantages of the Bill while having highlighted the reservations held against the highly contested legislature. The implementation of the Bill criminalises hate speech without the condition of incitement of violence.
According to the report, the Bill is heavily contested by human rights progressive groups that believe in the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution. The Bill would have an effect on religious groups that openly denounce homosexuality.
The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill changes the definition of hate speech to:
“Any person who intentionally, by means of any communication whatsoever, communicates to one or more persons in a manner that – (a) advocates hatred towards any other person or group of persons, or (b) is threatening, abusive or insulting towards any other person or group of persons; and which demonstrates a clear intention, having regard to all the circumstances, to – (i) incite others to harm any person or group of persons, whether or not such person or group of persons is harmed; or (ii) stir up violence against, or bring into contempt or ridicule, any person or group of persons, based on race, gender, sex, which includes intersex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture, language, birth, disability, HIV status, nationality, gender identity, albinism or occupation or trade, is guilty of the offence of hate speech.”
Offenders of hate speech may find themselves not only incriminated but incarcerated for up to 10 years.