Incitement to hatred can occur when an individual or group threatens to harass a person or a group of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That could be in words, pictures, videos, and even music. It also includes information posted on websites. Illegal hate content may include:
- messages calling for violence against people due to due to their sexual orientation or gender identity
- web pages that show pictures, videos or descriptions of violence against anyone due to their sexual orientation or gender identity
- Chat forums where people ask other people to commit hate crimes against LGBTQ people.
If you become aware of material then you may want to alert others to it. You may also consider reporting it to the police, or through a third party, such as Galop. You should supply the web address and any other relevant detail, such as the identity of the person posting illegal material.
I’ve come across an internet chat room. Someone posted a comment saying he thought gay people were ‘sick’ and ‘homosexuality was against the laws of nature – isn’t that inciting homophobia?
While the Internet and postings on social networking sites contain material that may be offensive, very little of it is actually illegal. UK laws are written to allow freedom of speech/expression and to be illegal the content must match the descriptions listed above. For example if you come across a website where people are expressing anti-gay sentiments, you might not like what’s being said, or you may be angry or upset by those views but they are not necessarily breaking any laws.
However, even if such material does not seem to be illegal, you can take the steps to have it removed if it upsets, scares or offends you. For example you can report the material to the site moderator. Many sites have their own rules on what is/isn’t acceptable and there are fairly simple ways to complain. You can also contact the hosting company who usually have their own guidelines. Let them know they are hosting a website that breaks their rules, and ask them to stop. You can find out which company hosts a website by entering their web address on the ‘Who is hosting this?‘ website.
If you aren’t sure if the material is illegal or it has ‘crossed the line’ then you can contact Galop for advice. Galop can help make a report to the police. Alternatively you can report to the police directly through www.report-it.org.uk