Chilean minorities celebrate Bachelet’s move to criminalize hate speech

Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times Staff

This Monday, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet sent a law to Congress which could see incitation of violence becoming a crime punishable by up to 540 days in prison.

The law is aimed at preventing anyone from spreading messages of hate, either directly or indirectly, because of differences in, for example, race, sexual orientation, gender or religion.

In the Moneda Palace on Monday morning, Bachelet cited the case of Daniel Zamudio, a youth killed brutally by neo-nazis for being gay, to explain the necessity of this law. She pronounced that the law should “create an environment which promotes diversity, we want to close the door to hate, so that everyone can express their own ideas”.

Bachelet highlighted that “the State has an important responsibility as a guarantor of human rights”, and, because of this, noted that the punishment for a state official penalized under the new law could reach up to 3 years in prison.

The law will also repeal a polemical part of the Press Law, which currently states that publications and media outlets which promote messages of hate may only be punishable by fines, reports AhoraNoticias.

In a letter published on Sunday in El Mercurio, the Jewish Community celebrated the bill, stating that “it serves every one of us: women, men, Christians, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, sexual minorities, indigenous minorities, among many other groups. We all shape this country and in our differences lies our greatest strength.”

The law will now enter Congress to be discussed and drafted into the Civil and Penal codes.