Merkel’s government passes a law making hate-motivated insults a crime

Photo: EPA Justice minister Christine Lambrecht

The German government passed a new law on Wednesday making hate-motivated insults a criminal offence that can be punished with a monetary fine or prison of up to two years, news wires reported. Germany’s justice minister Christine Lambrecht said the new law is meant to protect Jews, Muslims, gays, people with disabilities and others.

“It is our responsibility to protect every single person in our society from hostility and exclusion,” Lambrecht said, cited by dpa.

The new measure, which still needs parliamentary approval, includes insulting hate messages sent as texts, emails or letters.

Hate crimes and attacks against minorities have been on the rise in Germany in recent years and with the skyrocketing use of social media, targeted insults are becoming commonplace, groups that track hate crimes say.

Under existing legislation, because the insults are personal and not public, they couldn’t be punished as incitement to racial hatred.

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