Protection from Hatred

Jul 05, 2024

Late last month a news story reported an incident of online hate that targeted a social media post about a Pride-focussed craft project of a pre-primary class on Nova Scotia’s south shore.  The activity highlighted inclusion ahead of Lunenburg County Pride which begins this weekend.

“…hundreds of people on Facebook commented on a post about a school on the South Shore, that shows a table with art supplies and a sign that says "Create Your Own Drag Queen." Some made hateful comments about the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”

This incident came on the heels of a statement from Commission CEO Joseph Fraser calling for action to address increasingly hostile and discriminatory treatment targeting members of the queer and trans community.

Social media can be a platform where hateful rhetoric seeds division without any basis in fact or evidence to support sometimes harmful claims.

When considering the impacts of malicious, hateful or divisive commentary – and how laws are used to defend all parties in these matters - it can be helpful to understand how similar incidents unfold in jurisdictions outside of Nova Scotia. Recent cases from BC, Saskatchewan and Ontario saw similar situations resulting in costs to those perpetuating hate in amounts ranging from $10,000 - $17,500. The Supreme Court of Canada has also ruled that freedom of expression (free speech) does not include discriminatory hate speech targeting protected groups.

Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are protected characteristics under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. If you experience discrimination or harassment based on your identity, you should contact the Commission. Any threats or actual violence against you or your loved ones, however, are police matters.

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