Combating Hate Speech Project: Wall of Shame 13 October 2015
Today, Tuesday (13.10.15), the initial event organized by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights on the project against hate speech supported by NED (National Endowment for Democracy) was held marking the launch of the Platform for Combating Hate Speech, coordinated by the Committee and open for any organization or individual to join, followed by the promotion of the Wall of Shame, erected in order to raise the public awareness about the presence of hate speech in the public sphere and the launch of the study "Analysis of the situation, protection and possibilities for prevention of Hate Speech in the Republic of Macedonia", prepared by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
Some of the findings from the Analysis were presented to the public during the initial event, highlighting the fact the highest frequency of hate speech was observed during the pre-election periods, on grounds of ethnicity.
Furthermore, according to the same findings, the highest number of reports of hate speech are on grounds of ethnicity, race and religious affiliation, as well as on grounds of language and nationality. Hate speech on grounds of sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity is also considerable.
During the event, Elena Brmbeska, the project-coordinator, stated: "There is a low level of awareness among the citizens when it comes to what hate speech is. Therefore we have undertaken a line of activities in order to raise this awareness among the people since the public prosecution has a low rate of response toward hate speech, the legal definition is rather inadequate and there are no repercussions for the perpetrators. The project covers several activities such as lobbying towards prevention of hate speech, as well as awareness-raising among the citizens and in the institutions".
The setting up of the "Wall of Shame" during this initial event related to the project against hate speech, was in order to point out to the presence of hate speech in the public sphere which is largely encouraged by the appearances of public personalities who regularly use and spread hate speech.
Kocho Andonovski, the program director of the LGBTI Support Center and the first gay man to have officially come out of the closet in Macedonia also addressed the attendees, pointing out that ten years after his coming out hate speech has increased in intensity and keeps of gaining ground: "Ten years ago, when I first came out as gay in Macedonia, there were negative reactions, but there was no hate speech in such proportions. Unlike then, today, unfortunately, instead of seeing hate speech diminish, we testify that not only has it become a way of life, but it has also penetrated out homes, which is appalling for a society which should be making progress and becoming more open".