Call for politicians to stand up against hate speech during European elections

By agency reporter
May 10, 2019

TheTrade Union Congress (TUC), community groups, human rights organisations and charities have today (10 May 2019)) made an unprecedented joint call on political parties to eradicate hate speech during the European election campaign.

The statement which was organised by the TUC is signed by more than 30 organisations and calls on all political parties to stand up against unlawful hate speech. It urges local authorities to publicly correct false claims made by candidates and parties that could stir up divisions in their communities.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “There is no room for racism, misogyny or any other form of hatred during – or after – these elections. We hope politicians and civic society will join us in calling for a respectful campaign.”  

The statement reads:

We are calling upon political parties to take all necessary steps during the European parliament election campaign to eradicate hate speech and false claims that divide our communities.

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are a fundamental part of our democracy. However, they must not be used to incite harm against others. 

It is not acceptable to blame different races, ethnic or religious groups, migrant workers or refugees for Britain’s problems.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has produced guidance on how political parties and candidates should conduct themselves during election periods.

This guidance outlines what is lawful freedom of speech and what is unlawful hate speech. And it states very clearly that incitement to racial hatred, religious hatred, or hatred because of sexual orientation are against the law and should not be used in political campaigning.

The guidance also highlights the key role local authorities have to play in setting the record straight if candidates use false claims to influence the public vote.  This is to ensure that local people are not misled.

Elections are an important time to discuss the issues facing society.

Whatever the outcome it is essential that these elections are not abused to sow hatred and division. On this, we must stand together.

Signatories:

Amnesty International, Asylum Matters, British Institute of Human Rights, Citizens UK, Community Security Trust (CST), End Violence Against Women Coalition, Equality Trust, Equally Ours, Fawcett Society, Friends, Families and Travellers, Gender Identity Research and Education Society, Hope not Hate, Institute of Race Relations, Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, LGBT Consortium, LGBT History Month, Migrant Voice, Migrants Organise, Muslim Council of Britain, Race on the Agenda, Runnymede Trust, Show Racism the Red Card, Schools OUT UK, Stonewall, TellMAMA, Trades Union Congress, Unite Against Fascism, Women’s Budget Group, Women’s Resource Centre, 4in10: London Child Poverty Network.

* Trades Union ongress

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.