The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development recently published, and invited the public to comment on, the long-awaited and controversial Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.
The deadline for comments on this Bill is next week Tuesday, 31 January 2017.
The Bill makes “hate speech” a criminal offence in South African law, punishable by a fine and/or a maximum of 3 years’ jail time for a 1st offence (and 10 years for a repeated offence). The problem however is that, in terms of the Bill, “hate speech” is so broadly defined that it includes virtually any speech that anyone could potentially find offensive – even when there is no actual victim!
If the Bill is passed in its current form, it will have major ramifications for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. While the Bill does not explicitly ban the Scriptures, the over-broad definition of “hate speech” in the Bill could potentially muzzle believers from speaking their religious convictions and beliefs freely and without fear of punishment.
At a meeting with religious leaders at Turffontein race course on Monday, 23 January, the Deputy Minister of Justice is reported to have said that “the Bill will criminalise preaching against homosexuality‚ racial discrimination and so forth.”
(See more here
*A copy of the Bill can be downloaded HERE
- scroll down to and click on “Hate Speech Bill”.