National Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has confirmed that the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill will soon be tabled.
Several amendments have been made to the Bill, as several instances of hate speech have shown up on social media platforms. Mthethwa said that the bill would be received by Parliament before the current administration’s term comes to an end.
One of the biggest controversies surrounding the Bill is the large number of characteristics which will now be covered under ‘hate speech’. Many now fear that even petty insults may lead to trouble with the law.
According to an analysis conducted by the Free Market Foundation (FMF) on the earlier version of the bill drafted in 2017, the Bill protects seventeen characteristics. This includes culture, belief, occupation and gender identity. The Constitution, however, only allows for the protection of four specified characteristics – race, ethnicity, religion and gender.
These characteristics are:
- Sex, which includes intersex
- Ethnic or social origin
- Sexual orientation
- HIV status
- Gender identity
- Occupation or trade
Martin van Staden, legal researcher at the FMF, says the core problems of the Bill remain the same despite the recent amendments. Van Staden says that because of the Bill’s broad nature, it still has irredeemable qualities.
Legislation states that committing the crime of hate speech is as simple as insulting someone with the intention to bring them into contempt, ridiculing them based on anything from occupation and belief, or more contentious elements like gender, race, religion, etc. Being found guilty of hate speech could condemn you to a prison sentence of three years for the first offence, and up to ten years if there is a second offence.
To view the draft for the Bill, click here Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill