The right to be free from offense : the development of hate speech laws in the European Union, UK, Canada, and Sweden



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With the increasing population heterogeneity and rising tensions in Western nations, the governments of those nations have sought ways to manage conflict between different groups. This often comes in the form of laws criminalizing certain speech, and numerous Western nations have passed bills strengthening sanctions against hate speech or adding previously unprotected groups. However, when the European Union attempted to pass strict hate speech legislation, many EU member states disagreed with its provisions and, due to the structure of the EU, managed to substantially change the resulting legislation. This study examines how proponents and opponents of hate speech legislative change frame the issue and the role the EU.