Incitement to racial or ethnic hatred is a crime under the laws of a number of countries.
Under the Law of the United Kingdom, "incitement to racial hatred" was established as an offence by the provisions of §§ 17-29 of the Public Order Act 1986. It was first established as a criminal offence in the by the Race Relations Act 1976. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made publication of material that incited racial hatred an arrestable offence.
This offence refers to:
Holocaust denial is not covered under this legislation, and neither is incitement to hatred against religions other than Judaism and Sikhism . This has been criticised by Muslim groups who argue that it gives preferential treatment to other religions than their own which is open to attack. As of 2005, the British government are attempting to bring in a similar law for incitement to religious hatred, but this has met with tough opposition by civil liberties groups, comedians, and others, who argue that it would stifle religious debate. It is also argued that incitement against Muslims is already covered by existing laws concerning incitement to violence.
Some critics of this legislation assert that only certain racial groups are censored while other favoured groups are not. The proponents of this legislation are criticized for apparently seeking to deny the right of free speech to others with legitimate concerns over issues such as immigration, crime, terrorism, etc. Some critics also argue that the definition of "racial hatred" is too vague, which could lead to people who told racist jokes, for example, being penalised, or even that racist discrimination may end up being protected . However, supporters of the law claim that it helps to protect vulnerable minorities from attack, and does not stifle legitimate debate (for example, about gun crime in Britain's black community). No one race, creed or culture should be subject to censure; the application of this law is so fluid is in subject to enforcement by the government proscribed authorities who do not represent the will of the general public at large.