Gay hate law ‘mostly hot air’

The law preventing incitement of hatred against homosexuals should be rewritten, since it appears to offer more protection than it really does. So says Sweden's Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz.

In November last year the Supreme Court declared pastor Åke Green not guilty of inciting hatred. The court found that Green’s pronouncement that homosexuals were a cancer on the body of society was a violation of Swedish law, but that European law on religious freedom and freedom expression superseded it.

After that decision, there have been demands to tighten Swedish legislation, but according to the Chancellor of Justice, that is not possible.

“There is no way to increase the legal protection for homosexuals, said Göran Lambertz at a press conference with journalists in parliament on Tuesday.

Instead, the law ought to be toned down so that it tallies better with the European Convention on Human Rights. Today, the law’s formulation concerning expressions of contempt suggests that the protection it offers is stronger than the reality.

“It’s almost entirely hot air,” said Lambertz.

But not everyone agrees with the Chancellor of Justice’s analysis. The Left Party’s Tasso Stafilidis is a member of parliament’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) group.

“He is completely wrong. He seems to think the European Convention is a stagnant document which can’t be changed. But when it was written in the 1940s everyone agreed that it should be a living document which would change through time,” he told TT.

Stafilidis believes that the law against inciting hatred of minority groups needs to be toughened.

He will be watching a new trial, similar to the Åke Green case, at the Supreme Court with interest. The Court of Appeal freed a group of nazis on the basis of the Green verdict. The Supreme Court will begin hearing the case on May 30th.

“If the nazis are found not guilty, we’ll realise that the law has totally failed,” said Stafilidis.

The law against incitement to racial hatred was introduced in Sweden in 1948 and was expanded to include sexual orientation in 2003. Incitement to hatred means expressing or spreading threats or contempt for people based on their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, beliefs or sexual orientation.