The Constitutionality of the Prohibition of Hate Speech in terms of Section 10(1) of the Equality Act: A Reply to Botha and Govindjee

Keywords: Hate speech, Equality Act, unfair discrimination and hate speech regulation, hurt and harm, incitement, freedom of expression, dignity, equality, bona fide engagement in protected expression

Abstract

This is a reply to a critique by Botha and Govindjee (2017 PELJ 1-32) of our interpretation of the hate speech provisions of the Equality Act (Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000) in Marais and Pretorius (2015 PELJ 901-942), in which we considered the constitutionality of section 10(1) of the Act, amongst other things. We address Botha and Govindjees' rejection of our view that hate speech is a form of unfair discrimination and that the most appropriate constitutional framework within which section 10(1) should be interpreted and assessed is sections 9 and 10 of the Constitution. We consider Botha and Govindjees' rejection of this point of departure, their opposing different interpretation of the role of the proviso in section 12 of the Act and, generally, their reasons for concluding that section 10(1) is unconstitutional. We maintain that Botha and Govindjee's proposals for reform unduly restrict the hate speech prohibition to cover exclusively expression that warrants criminalisation. In doing so, they fail to fully acknowledge the transformative obligation in terms of international law, the Constitution and the Equality Act, to prohibit and prevent unfair discrimination.

 

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Published
2019-05-27
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