Hate speech conviction backed by ECHR

Feb. 9, 2012 at 1:06 PM

SODERHAMN, Sweden, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The European Court of Human Rights declared Thursday the conviction of four Swedish men for hate speech was not a violation of their freedom of expression.

The four men, ages 19 to 24, put about 100 flyers, referring to homosexuality as a "deviant sexual proclivity" that has "a morally destructive effect on the substance of society" and is responsible for the HIV and AIDS epidemic, into student lockers in a school in Soderhamn in 2004.

They were asked to leave the premises by school officials and were later accused of promoting hate speech, The Local reported.

Swedish Supreme Court convicted all four in 2006 of agitating a minority community because students were not given the opportunity to refuse the flyers. They were given suspended sentences and fines ranging from 200 krona to 2,000 krona ($265 to $2,650).

In 2007, the men took their case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the ruling violated their freedom of expression. The court called the complaint "inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded," and said the sentence was reasonable.

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