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Hate Speech

Hate Speech

Hate speech is a term denoting the use of hateful language. Individual persons or groups are devalued, attacked or subjected to incitements of hatred, hate or violence by inhuman statements on the Internet, on social networks, in forums and commentary threads. Specific people or groups of people become the target here. The disparaging language used claims these people or groups are worth less than others. These are often comments based on skin colour, origins, sexuality, gender, age, disability or religion.

Legal Situation

Hate speech is not a legally established term. Basically, everyone in Germany is allowed to say what they think. This is laid down in Article 5 of the Basic Law (“Grundgesetz”, GG) – freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech does not mean that anyone is allowed to say anything. Freedom of speech is not an absolute right. As soon as the dignity of a person is attacked, this is not covered by Article 5 of the GG.

Hate speech statements may well constitute criminal offences. These also apply to young people from the age of 14. Noteworthy clauses here in Germany’s Criminal Code (“Strafgesetzbuch”,  StGB) are:

  • Incitement of masses § 130 StGB,

  • Insult § 185 StGB,

  • Defamation § 187 StGB,

  • Coercion § 240 StGB,

  • Threatening commission of serious criminal offence § 241 StGB,

  • Public incitement to commit offences § 111 StGB.

Do not give hate speech a chance!

Report hate speech posts and content on the relevant social media and online platforms if they violate rules or laws. You can also file criminal charges at any police station or public prosecutor’s office.