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The Seimas Endorses the Proposal to Extend the List of Criteria for Hate Crimes in Line with Calls from the European Commission

Date

2022 05 27

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The Seimas approved of the amendments to the Criminal Code drafted by the Ministry of Justice aimed at ensuring conformity with EU law and making it possible to fight against certain forms of racism and xenophobia by using the measures provided by criminal law with more efficiency.  

„We want to ensure that everyone feels dignified and safe, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, religion or any other criteria; therefore, it is so important to put forward some amendments to the legal framework in order to harmonize national regulation with EU law in order to fight against homophobia, racism, xenophobia or religious intolerance more efficiently, and to prevent acts of hostility and violence“, Minister of Justice Evelina Dobrovolska emphasized.

The amendments rectify the articles of the Criminal Code on hate speech and hate crimes, and provide that persons shall be held liable for acts of discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, religion, belief or opinion as well as on the grounds of the colour of a person's skin and his or her ethnic origin.

Hate speech and hate crime are receiving particular attention at European Union level. In the very near future, on the initiative of the European Commission, there are plans to extend the list of crimes in the European Union to include hate speech and hate crimes. This will create the legal basis for a new legislative initiative to ensure harmonised rules on the criminalisation of hate speech and hate crime across the European Union.