What is hate speech?
Hate speech is language that humiliates or threatens others based on culture, race, gender, disability, religion or sexuality. It can be directed towards a person or a group.
Hate speech is different to simply teasing or ridiculing someone, or being mean spirited in anger or frustration. It’s about expressing hate towards people purely because they share particular attributes or belong to a particular community.
There is a fine line between what is and isn’t considered hate speech.
Hate speech and social cohesion
NSW is made up of people from many different walks of life – with different pasts but a shared future. Hate speech undermines social cohesion and harmony. Hate speech does not make NSW a safer place to live.
Hate speech and extremism
Extremists use hate speech to incite fear and division. They thrive on ‘us and them’ language to divide people.
Hate speech and the law
All citizens have a right to freely express themselves and their culture, religion and heritage – as long as that expression remains within the rule of the law. Reflecting our society’s commitment to civility, respect and tolerance, there are various laws in Australia that place limitations on what people can say. Some examples are laws relating to defamation, trade practices, sexual harassment and racial vilification.
Not all forms of hate speech are unlawful, but that does not mean it is socially acceptable. Hate speech can isolate individuals and communities and make people feel unsafe. It is not just a legal issue. Hate speech is a social issue.