There is no universally agreed-upon definition of hate speech, nor is the term hate speech codified in international law. In reviewing definitions of hate speech from varying institutions, ARTICLE 19 has identified that the term to encompass any expression imparting opinions or ideas bringing an internal opinion or idea to an external audience. Hate speech can take many forms, including written, non-verbal, visual, artistic, etc, and may be disseminated through any media, including internet, print, radio, or television.
The discussion among Malaysian politicians surrounding hate speech centres around the limitation of alternative views that often holds consequences of criminal charges.
In Malaysia, minority groups, including ethnic and religious minorities, migrants, and LGBTQ+ persons are most often victims of hate speech. At the same time, the term hate speech is often instrumentalised by majority groups to silence expression that is protected under international law, including that which may be offensive. Individuals and groups who do not engage in hate speech but speak out against the government, State officials, or a religion are often penalised, and political dissent is silenced.
ARTICLE 19 presents a policy note on recommendations to address hate speech through a multi-stakeholder approach in place of laws that are overbroad and vague.
For more information
Nalini Elumalai, Senior Malaysia Programme Officer [email protected]