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​Unions, community groups and charities call on politicians to stand up against hate speech during European elections

Published: 10 May 2019 Tags: By Joe Nellist

Trade unions, community groups, human rights organisations and charities have today made an unprecedented joint call on political parties to eradicate hate speech during the European election campaign.

The statement – 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.

We have seen a dramatic spike in hate speech and hate crimes over recent years and we are proud to stand alongside these organisations in calling on all political parties to ensure that hate speech is challenged wherever it appears, and that those who seek to us it as a way of causing further division in our communities are held to account.

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 civic society and political leaders will stand up for respectful freedom of speech.”


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:

  1. Amnesty International
  2. Asylum Matters
  3. British Institute of Human Rights
  4. Citizens UK
  5. Community Security Trust (CST)
  6. End Violence Against Women Coalition
  7. Equality Trust
  8. Equally Ours
  9. Fawcett Society
  10. Friends, Families and Travellers
  11. Gender Identity Research and Education Society
  12. Hope not Hate
  13. Institute of Race Relations
  14. Jewish Council for Racial Equality
  15. Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
  16. Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  17. LGBT Consortium
  18. LGBT Foundation
  19. LGBT History Month
  20. Migrant Voice
  21. Migrants Organise
  22. Muslim Council of Britain
  23. Race on the Agenda
  24. Runnymede Trust
  25. Show Racism the Red Card
  26. Schools OUT
  27. Stonewall
  28. TellMAMA
  29. Trades Union Congress
  30. Unite Against Fascism
  31. Women’s Budget Group
  32. Women’s Resource Centre
  33. 4in10: London Child Poverty Network