I read your ‘Anti-LGBTI comments are nasty but are part of free speech’ (Our View, June 15) in both shock and disbelief.
You argued that “nasty” comments should not warrant investigation by the authorities after a recommendation by ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides on Tuesday, June 13 on death threats, and online abuse targeting LGBTQI+ individuals as highlighted by AcceptCY. Let me firstly put on record I am a rigorous defender and advocate of the right of free speech, but there is a difference between free speech and hate speech. A nasty comment might be “I don’t like your hair”, a hateful comment would be “I want you dead because you are blonde”. Wishing that gay people be “shot, beaten or buried in a ditch” goes way beyond acceptable behaviour and is clearly hate speech based on sexuality. Homosexuality is no more a choice than your eye/hair colour and your analogy that supporting a solution to the Cyprus problem could be classed as unpatriotic “hate speech” is ludicrous.
Your analogy entirely misses the point that supporting a solution would be a “choice” and differing views and debate is healthy, whilst personally attacking someone or wishing them harm for a trait of their character is clearly hatred targeted at an individual for something they have no control over.
Receiving death threats and abuse for just being “you” is not acceptable in any civilised society.
It is not about “hurt feelings”, it is about the underlying message that allowing people to be “selected” because they are in some way different is acceptable and that they should be treated differently. If this were a discussion about ability or race you would be rightly outraged that people were posting death threats online and demanding swift action be taken. Our continent has suffered greatly from situations where groups have been selected for persecution because they are “different” and making a death threat to an LGBTQI+ person is no different. Equal rights mean just that, equal. Not special, not extra, just the same basic protections as enjoyed by all other citizens.
Ian Hollins, Paphos