“Hate speech” is a complex and multifaceted concept which has no universally accepted definition in international human rights law.

According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) general policy recommendation of 8th December 2015, “hate speech is the advocacy, promotion or incitement of the denigration, hatred or vilification of a person or group of persons, any harassment, insult, negative stereotyping, stigmatization or threat of such person or persons and any justification of all these forms of expression, based on “race”, colour, language, religion or belief, nationality or national or ethnic origin, as well as descent, age, disability, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and other characteristics or status.”

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Freedom of speech is an absolute value in any democracy, both for the public and for the media, at the same time the wide spreading of hate speech is extremely worrying and can have serious consequences for individuals, groups and the whole society. It may cause fear and can be the reason why people withdraw from the public debate, the result being that important voices that should be heard in the public debate are silenced.

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