The EU’s ‘hate speech’ laws are an attack on free speech itself: This year’s European elections may be the last chance to defend our rights

A man addresses the assembled listeners at Speaker's Corner in London, April 1936. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


After last November’s attack on a Dublin Catholic school, graffiti reading “Irish lives matter” appeared on the Falls Road in West Belfast. It is a location that is no stranger to wall sloganeering, although most of it is of the “Brits Out” variety. (Indeed, the meaning of “Irish lives matter” is ambiguous).

This one particular daub was singled out by local Police as a “hate speech incident”.

This decision, attracting criticism from conservative media, actually foreshadowed alarming developments. The writing is now on the wall for everyone in the EU.

Last month the European Parliament passed a report calling on the Council to include hate speech and hate crime among so-called “Euro crimes”.

In other words, offensive speech may soon be established as a criminal offence, which all member states must integrate into their own legal systems. However, no clear threshold has been set for what makes speech prosecutable.

According to Maite Pagazaurtundúa of Renew Europe, rapporteur for the report and Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, “we must protect people who are attacked, persecuted and harassed … always in accordance with the principle of proportionality and guaranteeing freedom of expression for citizens”.

This sounds nice, but it is also dangerously vague.

The Parliament’s report comes as part of a process started by the Commission in 2020. In her inaugural speech, Ursula von der Leyen had stressed the need “to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech – whether because of race, religion, gender or sexuality”.

This is yet another example of decisions that are being imposed on Europeans top-down.

One needs to define what hate is – and the Parliament does not. On the contrary, its report calls for an “open-ended” approach to what constitutes discrimination. In the words of Pagazaurtundúa, “we are facing social dynamics, through which the normalisation of hate evolves very quickly”.

All this is in tune with the woke agenda. For many liberals taking offence has become something of a raison d’être. “Snowflakes” of all denominations have long been elevating their owndelicate feelings to a universal standard. But until now, not complying with their demands has been legal. In the near future, this may change.

So, will henceforth every instance when somebody feels offended or upset constitute a crime? Is there no distinction between speech and physical violence anymore? Importantly, the Parliament’s report does not set instigation to violence as a prerequisite for hate speech. Rather, it only refers to violations of “human dignity”. This illiberal slope is more than slippery.

Would quoting from St. Paul’s 1 Corinthians, where homosexuality is clearly condemned, be banned because it violates somebody’s “dignity”? Would stating that there are only two genders become criminalised? Would saying that Europe should remain a predominantly Christian continent break the law? The questions are not rhetoric.

At the same time, “human dignity” of majority groups is not expected to be protected by the new laws. We see that happening already. To offend a churchgoer is OK. To be Rüde about straight people is fine. To attack ethnic Europeans is alright. It is in regard to minorities alone that the Orwellian EU superstate is so super-sensitive.

Not only do EU ruling elites decide on restructuring society as we know it in a non-democratic and authoritarian manner, but they also plan to criminalise any reaction to their decisions. Whoever vocally opposes mass migration and the LGBTQ agenda may soon be answerable to the authorities.

The coming European Elections are crucial. If freedom of expression is not guaranteed, then democracy in the EU will only become more difficult to maintain. Those whose aim is to restrict liberty in the name of progress, can only be stopped at the ballot – at least for as long as people have a say.

Konstantinos Bogdanos served as a member of the Greek parliament from 2019 to 2023