On Tuesday June 13th Irish senators debated the controversial Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022. With very short notice the Countess organised an impressive and well received public event at Leinster House, Ireland’s parliament building, to protest the introduction of the bill and to call on legislators to heed calls for the bill to be radically amended.
Laoise de Brún, the Countess founder and barrister at law, addressed the public and was joined in her call for greater scrutiny of the bill by Dr Helen Joyce, Head of Advocacy at Sex Matters, Anne Conway, veteran women’s rights campaigner and trade unionist and Gearóid O’ Loingsigh, an expert and consultant on prisons and prisoners’ rights.
Ms de Brún’s bravura speech addressed the most egregious sections of the bill describing it as the ‘…the most oppressive, restrictive, totalitarian and authoritarian hate crime legislation in all of Europe’.
Ms de Brún drew attention to the asymmetrical nature of the proposed law, it’s capacity to allow bad actors to engage in ‘law fare’, its attempt to collapse the definition of sex and it’s Orwellian creation of a new category of crime – pre-crime, whereby a person can be guilty of a offence even where an individual’s action did not in fact incite violence or hatred.
Laoise reminds us how the 1916 Declaration promised a republic that never materialised and outlines how this bill will drag us back to that old, oppressive, stifling society of 1950s Ireland.
We are here today to try to pull this country back from the brink of authoritarian rule.
When this bill was brought before the Dáil and debated the TDs whose job it was to speak up on behalf of the citizens of this country, said privately, that they felt they could not.
Many others said they hoped that the Upper house, the Seanad would do their job for them and make the amendments that were required.
And that is what they must do today.
But these were the deputies who had taken the time to even read this piece of extraordinary legislation which grants extraordinary totalitarian powers to the state.
It was clear that many of them had not even read the bill and have still not grasped what it means in law and what it will do to our society.
If this hate crime bill goes through in its current form, we will have the most oppressive, restrictive, totalitarian, and authoritarian hate crime legislation in all of Europe.
If this bill goes through in its current form, it will mean the end of free speech in Ireland and the end of due process.
Both of these fundamental rights are guaranteed under the Constitution and yet here we are with legislation which will topple two pillars of any liberal democracy, being pushed through without a referendum.
The presumption of innocence under Art 6 which states;
Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
Freedom of Expression Under Article 40.
I will now outline what is wrong with this bill.
It is built on sand.
The term hate is not defined. It is entirely subjective. It is something that is perceived or felt. This means that you might be brought before the guards and not know what you said or did wrong. It is unconscionable to legislate in this manner based on feelings.
The test is motivation and demonstration. It is not objective. This means that even a sticker or a poster or a meme will meet the threshold and prove your guilt.
It is being used to collapse the meaning of sex in law.
Like with the Workplace balance and Miscellaneous provisions bill, the government is using this bill as a smokescreen to dismantle the meaning of sex in law. Do not let them!!!
Sex or Gender as synonymous with sex means male or female and then those who have acquired a GRC. Under this bill, the government is attempting to create a new definition of gender as a person’s preferred gender or the gender they identify as, or a gender other than male or female. This is nonsensical but it is dangerous nonsense. Do not let them collapse the meaning of sex in law. They have no mandate to do this. All of the rights and freedoms that we agree that women and girls need, to live a life as equals outside the home, are predicated on sex being a definable discrete class in law. This is an aggressive attempt to further erode these rights in law. They tried to do this with the GRA, with maternity legislation, with equality legislation and now with hate crime. DO NOT LET THEM.
Under this bill in its current form the citizens of this country will lose their presumption of innocence as guaranteed under our constitution.
Does the government understand this?
How can they possibly push through a bill that forces the citizen to prove their own innocence.
No longer will it be up to the state to prove that you are guilty- now it will be up to you to prove that you are innocent. But we shouldn’t be surprised when the stated aim of this provision is to make prosecution easier.
This bill criminalises “intentional or reckless communication or behaviour that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person with a protected characteristic.” You can be guilty of a crime under this legislation even where your action did not in fact incite violence or hatred.
It is not necessary to actually publish or spread any message or content. You do not even have to cause or incite any hate. it is enough to simply possess the material.
This will usher in an era of thought crime or pre-crime… Search and Seizure: the gardai will be granted power to enter your home and seize all electronic devices and demand passwords.
Senators do not let this happen.
We are the silent majority of the country.
We believe in the material reality of sex.
We know that sex is binary and immutable. We know that it is impossible to change your sex. That a man cannot become a woman and no child is born in the wrong body.
We are not protected under the legislation, and it can, and it will be abused to harass us. This has already happened in England and Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland and Norway where ordinary people voicing their concerns about trans ideology have been arrested. They will be able to report this speech I am making today as hate speech.
Trans identified people in Ireland are afforded protected status and we on the other side of this public debate, are not.
There is a lack of symmetry. And we know why this is so. Hate crime legislation is a tool to enforce gender ideology on the people of Ireland. Senators do not let them.
Don’t let them tell you this is progress.
We have been here before when we were ruled by the stifling, suffocating iron grip of a closed society.
When a dissenting opinion or being spotted in the wrong place with the wrong person was enough to have you committed to one for the many asylums that dotted the country.
The Church is blamed for the system of homes, but the asylums were run by the state.
When we were incarcerating more of our own citizens than the USSR who was in charge? The same two parties that have always been in charge.
This is nothing new to them. This is in their linage.
They have never known anything but power for a hundred years.
The 1916 proclamation of Independence promised a republic that would cherish all her children equally.
But some were always more equal than others;
The respectable ones
The monied ones
The married ones
Now we are back to two camps.
The ones like us who want a free and open debate about important social issues and the ones who swallow the orthodoxy whole.
Who dutifully repeat all the axiomatic slogans like trans rights are human rights.
Trans women are women.
They get a pat on the head from the Establishment.
We get called bigots, transphobes, Terfs and now face the threat of criminal prosecution for daring to dissent.
DO NOT LET THEM tell you this is progress.
Do not this State sleepwalk back into authoritarianism.
This bill is a device to punish wrong think.
To quash debate.
To kill off dissent.
To control freedom of expression.
To copper fasten trans ideology onto the culture.
Do not let them.
The Countess didn’t fight for this!