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Censor women’s rights groups on social media – Thomas Pringle TD

Deputy Thomas Pringle has said that allowing some women’s rights groups to use social media “unchecked” is a “violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Deputy told a Council of Europe meeting that Ireland has “problems with TERFS – trans exclusionary radical feminist groups – who attack the rights of trans people…supposedly on behalf of protecting the rights of women.” These feminist groups, according to the Deputy, “plays into the irrational fears of citizens.”

The term TERF has been described as a slur used to silence women who are concerned that aggressive transgender activists are eroding women’s rights and their safety by, for example, demanding that biological males can use women’s bathrooms, or be placed in women’s prisons or women only domestic violence refuges. The term is commonly on social media to denigrate women who are deemed to be insufficiently supportive of transgender rights, with JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, being a particular target of both the term and other aggression from transgender activists.

The Deputy was speaking at a meeting of the Council of Europe on the topic of ‘Combating rising hate against LGBTI people in Europe.’

The Deputy said that these groups were funded by “radical right-wing religious groups from the United States of America,” and that “allowing this unchecked on social media amounts to condoning hateful language and incitement, which is in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).”

The argument that Ireland’s failure to implement hate speech laws and/or impose restrictions on social media companies is in breach of the ECHR has become an increasingly popular argument from Ireland’s mostly state-funded NGO sector, but it’s unclear what provision of the ECHR the Deputy believes is currently being broken; the Deputy did not respond when asked to detail the provisions in question. Implementing the sort of censorship Deputy Pringle appears to be calling for would arguably breach Article 10.1 and Article 11.1 of the ECHR.

We asked Deputy Pringle which Irish groups he believed were being funded by American groups, which religious groups he believed were organising this funding, and what evidence he had to back up his allegation, but we have yet to receive a response.

The Deputy ended his speech by saying that “the recognition of LGBTI+ people’s human rights does not harm society, women or children. On the contrary, it ensures a safe and welcoming society for everyone and that should be our aim.” We asked the Deputy exactly the introduction of a law criminalising speech would lead to a ‘safe and welcoming society for everyone,’ given that such a law would allow the jailing of citizens for publicly discussing their legitimately held belief, but we have yet to hear back from him.

Interestingly the press release the Deputy released on his personal website does not make mention of his comments regarding women’s rights groups, but his full remarks can be found on the official transcript of the meeting.

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