Information sheet

What is hate crime, hate speech and discrimination?

Hate crime is any criminal act committed against a person or property, which is motivated by the offender’s bias (hatred) of people because of their race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other features. Hate crimes are often called crimes against an individual’s identity that he/she cannot change. Hate crime can take many forms: intimidation, property damage, desecration of graves/memorials, offensive graffiti, physical violence, etc. Hate crimes cause greater harm to victim than ordinary crimes and society as a whole.

Hate speech are public expressions which spread, incite, or justify hatred, discrimination and violence on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance. They take place over internet, and in real life.

 Discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of his/her race or skin colour, ethnic or national origin, language, religious or other belief , gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social origin, family status,  etc.

The Latvian Criminal Law criminalises hate crimes/incitement to hatred on grounds of race, ethnic, national origin and religion. Racist motive is also an aggravating circumstance for all offences. The law also criminalises hate crimes/incitement to hatred on grounds of gender, age, disability or any other features. However the law requires that substantial harm is to be caused in such cases. Sexual orientation is not mentioned explicitly, but may be included among “other characteristics.”

 Most reported cases to date include hate speech on internet, and during the last five years, only one case on hate violence has been reported to the police.

 Discrimination is prohibited in employment, education, in access to goods and services, and several other areas. It can be reported to the Ombudsman and different NGOs.

 What does the Latvian Centre for Human Rights do?

 The Latvian Centre for Human Rights (LCHR) is an independent non-governmental organisation, that was established in 1993 to monitor and promote human rights in Latvia. Since 2005, LCHR also works on hate crime/speech and non-discrimination issues. It conducts research, organizes training seminars for different target groups.  It has also run projects, which aim at raising the capacity of the police and NGOs in combatting hate crimes and hate speech.

 LCHR seeks to develop further cooperation with the police, other NGOs and migrant communities/foreign students to raise awareness on intolerance and its various forms to encourage victims of hate crimes and discrimination to report about such incidents and seek justice.

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Publicēts: 2016-09-19