Most Danes do not believe people should be able to say whatever they want publicly

October 12, 2010

Efforts by the right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF) to eliminate the law against making racially-charged public comments will be an uphill battle, according to a new poll on the issue. A Rambøll/Analyse Danmark poll this week showed that a vast majority of Danes support the law – even the DF’s own voters. Overall, nearly 69 percent of the 944 adults polled said the law should remain intact, while 21 percent were in favor of doing away with it, primarily on the grounds of preserving free speech.

The law has been in the spotlight recently after the public prosecutor’s office decided to press charges against Jesper Langballe, a DF member of parliament, over his written comments about Muslims. In January, Langballe defended the president of the Free Speech Society, Lars Hedegaard, who in an interview had claimed that Muslim fathers rape their daughters. “Naturally Hedegaard shouldn’t have said that when the truth instead seems to be that they’re satisfied with just honor killing their daughters and turning a blind eye to the uncles’ rapes,” wrote Langballe.

No date has yet been set for Langballe’s trial, but DF has been pushing to have both the charges and the law dropped. According to the law, it is forbidden to make public comments that “denigrate, debase or threaten based on race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation”. In addition, the law covers remarks that incite terrorism and also explicitly protects the royal family from defamation.