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Court rejects complaint about conviction for homophobic hate speech

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In its decision in the case of Carl Jóhann Lilliendahl v. Iceland (application no. 29297/18) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final. The case concerned the applicant’s conviction and fine for homophobic comments he had made in response to an online article. The Court found that the applicant’s comments had amounted to hate speech within the meaning of its case-law. It accepted the Icelandic Supreme Court’s finding that the comments had been “serious, severely hurtful and prejudicial”, and that the decision which had originally sparked the debate, concerning measures to strengthen education in schools on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender matters, had not warranted such a severe reaction. The domestic courts’ decisions in the case, taken after an extensive balancing exercise between the applicant’s right to freedom of expression and the rights of gender and sexual minorities, had therefore been reasonable and j…