Homophobic flyers ‘not free speech’Around the World Monday, February 20th, 2012
STRASBOURG, France – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled Sweden’s Supreme Court was right to convict four men of hate crimes for distributing homophobic flyers at a school.
According to the ECHR finding, the leaflets were “unnecessarily offensive” to be protected by free speech laws.
According to Swedish news source The Local, the men, 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 $265 to $2,650.
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