The TUC, community groups, human rights organisations and charities have today (Friday) made an unprecedented joint call on political parties to eradicate hate speech during the European election campaign.
The statement - organised by the TUC - is signed by more than 30 organisations and calls on all political parties to stand up against unlawful hate speech.
And it urges local authorities to publicly correct false claims made by candidates and parties that could stir up divisions in their communities.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“There is no room for racism, misogyny or any other form of hatred during - or after - these elections.
“We hope politicians and civic society will join us in calling for a respectful campaign.”
The statement reads:
We are calling upon political parties to take all necessary steps during the European parliament election campaign to eradicate hate speech and false claims that divide our communities.
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are a fundamental part of our democracy. However, they must not be used to incite harm against others.
It is not acceptable to blame different races, ethnic or religious groups, migrant workers or refugees for Britain’s problems.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has produced guidance on how political parties and candidates should conduct themselves during election periods.
This guidance outlines what is lawful freedom of speech and what is unlawful hate speech. And it states very clearly that incitement to racial hatred, religious hatred, or hatred because of sexual orientation are against the law and should not be used in political campaigning.
The guidance also highlights the key role local authorities have to play in setting the record straight if candidates use false claims to influence the public vote. This is to ensure that local people are not misled.
Elections are an important time to discuss the issues facing society.
Whatever the outcome it is essential that these elections are not abused to sow hatred and division. On this, we must stand together.
British Institute of Human Rights
Community Security Trust (CST)
End Violence Against Women Coalition
Friends, Families and Travellers
Gender Identity Research and Education Society
Hope not Hate
Institute of Race Relations
Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
LGBT History Month
Muslim Council of Britain
Race on the Agenda
Show Racism the Red Card
Schools OUT UK
Trades Union Congress
Unite Against Fascism
Women’s Budget Group
Women’s Resource Centre
4in10: London Child Poverty Network
Notes to editors:
- The EHRC guidance contains information on freedom of expression for local authorities, candidates and political parties during an election period.
When local authorities become concerned that public statements during an election period are spreading misinformation, they have discretion to consider issuing a corrective statement, subject to strict conditions.
Examples of false or misleading information relating to equality and diversity issues that have the potential used to influence the public vote include:
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.