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Swedes' anti-gay flyers not free speech: court

Swedes' anti-gay flyers not free speech: court

Published: 09 Feb 2012 12:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Feb 2012 12:06 GMT+01:00

Sweden’s Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) was right to convict four men of hate crimes for distributing homophobic flyers at a school, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.

According to the ECHR, finding the leaflets were "unnecessarily offensive" to be protected by free speech laws.

The men, who were aged between 19 and 24 at the time, distributed roughly 100 flyers into student lockers in a school in Söderhamn in eastern Sweden in December 2004.

They were told to leave the premises at the time by school officials.

The flyers contained messages discussing the mens' views on homosexuality, which they referred to as “deviant sexual proclivity”.

The flyer also stated that homosexuals had “a morally destructive effect on the substance of society” and were responsible for the development of HIV and AIDS.

According to the men, their objective was not to promote hate speech, rather to create a debate concerning the school’s objectivity in their education system.

The men were later accused of promoting hate speech, and the Supreme Court in Sweden convicted them in 2006 of agitating a minority community, stating that the men had given the students no possibility to refuse the flyers by leaving them in the lockers.

Three of the men received suspended sentences, and were given fines ranging from €200 to €2,000 ($265 to $2650).

They four men then take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in January 2007, arguing the Supreme Court ruling constituted a violation of their freedom of expression.

In a statement released on Thursday, the European Court declared the applicants’ complaint was “inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded”.

The ECHR also noted that discrimination based on sexual orientation is as serious as those on “race, origin or colour”, and that the flyers had been unnecessarily offensive.

It also stated that the Supreme Court's sentence was reasonable.

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:40 February 9, 2012 by philster61
How about some anti-anti gay flyers.....
15:19 February 9, 2012 by truthworthy
well well another hypocritical move. Where are the ones who were saying Vilks had a free speech to insult Muslim minority in Sweden?
16:52 February 9, 2012 by Gamla Hälsingebock
Another Left Wing victory.

Be careful if you complain about the government or the politicians in it...too loudly.
17:53 February 9, 2012 by mafketis
Of course Vilks had every right to express himself and if some muslims don't like it then I don't care.

And of course these people have every right to express themselves and if some people don't like it then I don't care.

In both cases it's the responsibility of those offended to come up with reasonable logical arguments or to shut up.
18:34 February 9, 2012 by Indignerad
@mafketis: What you just described is not free speech.
19:09 February 9, 2012 by zooeden
They were from Uganda those retards!!! Have you seen the video "eat the poo poo?" its epic ladies and gentleman!!! EPIC!!!
23:37 February 9, 2012 by mafketis
@indignerad, then please enlighten me as to what I described and your version of free speech....
00:31 February 10, 2012 by kiaat
those minorities need lots of protection.. gays... and muslims... and who should get the most protection? gay muslims!

i am sure those boys had lots of fun thinking about all the deviant behaviour as they were slipped things into slots in the men's lockroom.

free speech is not there to incite hate. that is how it works in europe... what a waste of tax payers money and the courts time. if you want to trash guys that like guys or girls that like girls move it over to countries that are into that... i would say middle east and dark africa would work better.. let the nordics hold onto their values of equality and respect.
01:13 February 10, 2012 by axiom
Who made whom the judge of what is wrong or right.

In Nordic countries, civic society has no isssues with homosexuality and that's that.

I have said so on these pages before, You cannot use your right to free speech to incite hate and launch personal attacks. If we open this can of worms, where will it stop, anarchy?
07:13 February 10, 2012 by TheWatchman
@kiaat

Don't you know what happens to gay Muslims?

I personally think gays need protection, not just in Sweden, but everywhere. On the other hand, Muslims don't. In Sweden, they are given priority over regular Swedes anyway for some reason.
09:18 February 10, 2012 by mafketis
"I have said so on these pages before, You cannot use your right to free speech to incite hate and launch personal attacks"

In a free society criticism of others' lifestyles must be protected.

If the flyers overtly (or not very covertly) advocate violence against gay people then that's one thing. If they merely repeat stupid, idiotic lies that anyone with an IQ over 50 knows are stupid lies then .... who cares?

Similarly, advocating violence against Muslims is wrong (and not protected speech) but criticising and/or ridiculing aspects of Islam is legitimate free expression and if Muslims don't like it then too bad. If you can't take the heat of free speech then stay out of the kitchen of civil society.
23:46 February 10, 2012 by Stuart Parsons
When are the ignorant and prejudced going to realise that most homosexuals are born that way. Why do people make such a fuss about it ?
15:18 February 11, 2012 by tetrahedron
I don't understand The watchman's assertion that gays need protection but Muslims don't. It has been often said before that with rights come responsibilites. There has been an increase in the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmiited diseases in the UK recently, mainly due to promiscuity amongst the gay community. If gay people keep insisting on their rights, they should be also taking the responsibiltiy not to harm the rest of the population.

I hope that what I have just said is protected in the name of free speech, as someone needs to say it.

I don't believe in inciting hatred but in making people aware of the facts.
09:33 February 13, 2012 by zooeden
@tetrahedron

Wow, check your facts then, otherwise you might sound rather retrograde, ironic or even ignorant. its hillarious that you think the gay community is harming, endangering the rest of UK, marvelous fellow to talk to you should be!!!
19:48 February 13, 2012 by Khaliil
@ Stuart Parsons Pl3ease tell, what is the genetic difference between heterosexual & homosexual, what causes a person to be born that way?

If 'most' are born that way, what of those who were not born that way, what changed them?
20:11 October 11, 2012 by janeway
07:13 February 10, 2012 by The Watchman: Thumbs up for you!
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