What do the laws say?

Hate speech based on national or ethnic origin, color, race, religion, disability, sexual characteristics, sexual orientation, or gender identity is punishable under Art. 233 a of the General Penal Code No. 19/1940, with fines or up to two years in prison. According to the provision, expressing public contempt, mockery, ridicule, or threat involving such disdain, hostility, contempt, or condemnation is considered hate speech towards the affected. Violations of this provision can be reported to the police.

Expression that doesn't reach the severity of being considered hate speech according to the penal code may still constitute harassment, which is prohibited discrimination under anti-discrimination laws. Harassment is defined as conduct related to gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, life stance, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual characteristics, or gender expression, which has the purpose or the affect of violating the dignity of the person concerned and creating situations that are intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive.

Individuals, enterprises, institutions and non-governmental organisations who consider that their rights under provisions of the anti-discrimination laws have been violated, can lodge a complaint to the Equality Complaints Committee.

The anti-discrimination laws can be found here:
- Act No. 150/2020, on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender. 
- Act No. 85/2018, on Equal Treatment Regardless of Race and Ethnic Origin (Amended with Act amending the Act on Equal Treatment Irrespective of Race and Ethnic Origin, No. 85/2018 (adding more discrimination factors)).
- Act No. 86/2018, on Equal Treatment in the Labour Market.

Further education on harassment and micro-aggressions can be found under "Harmless?" – a campaign by the Directorate of Equality addressing manifestations of harassment and micro-aggressions. Additionally, more in-depth education on gender-based discrimination and harassment can be accessed on the Council of Europe's website under the heading "Sexism: See it. Name it. Stop it".

Expression that doesn't reach the severity of being considered hate speech or harassment is generally legal. However, it may still be subject to the same principles to some extent. Therefore, it is important that we choose our words carefully and strive to resist negative stereotypes rather than perpetuating them to contribute to the fight for equality.

In recent years, work against hate speech has been ongoing at the Council of Europe, and in 2022, a recommendation on combating hate speech was issued along with an explanatory memorandum.

Our words
Let's use our words to eradicate hate, not to amplify it