People with rare diseases can be victims of hate attacks

On the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, June 18, let’s remember that no one is immune from hate speech and everyone has a role in fighting it.

Hate speech destroys and strips people of their humanity. Psychological suffering, silencing, prejudice, power imbalances and restrictions on expression are just some of the impacts of this terrible evil.

What is hate speech?

The UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech refers to the working definition as: “any type of communication in speech, writing or behavior that attacks or uses derogatory or discriminatory language with reference to a person or group based on who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, national origin, race, color, ancestry, gender or other identity factor.

Online hate speech divides people and increases pre-existing tensions and conflicts. It targets and harms vulnerable communities that often feel abandoned and powerless.

“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

What are the effects of hate speech?

Hate speech not only causes personal harm and can incite violence, it is also an attack on inclusion, diversity and human rights. It undermines social cohesion and erodes shared values, delaying peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfillment of human rights for all.

Hate is not the answer, but education is the solution. Taking a step closer to safer, more peaceful and inclusive societies starts with addressing hate speech in and out of school, online and offline.

How does UNESCO work to combat hate speech?

UNESCO cooperates with various partners to address and combat hate speech within the framework of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2019. At all times, UNESCO emphasizes the importance of a human rights-based approach to combating hate speech, including through safeguarding freedom of expression.

Education is a powerful tool to combat misinformation, misinformation and hate speech. UNESCO supports countries to support regulators and judicial operators, develop educational responses and policies and legislation that promote, protect and defend international human rights.

As part of the EU-funded #SocialMedia4Peace project, UNESCO is empowering civil society organizations and has established national multi-stakeholder coalitions to bridge the gap between stakeholders to address hate speech online.

How does UNESCO deal with hate speech online?

UNESCO has been actively combating hate speech through education, training and policy guidance. We equip citizens with media and information literacy skills to question, verify and challenge narratives, strengthen the rule of law by training politicians and decision makers, and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues to learn from each other and find solutions. We also build resilience among vulnerable communities and promote peace through digital technologies.

Join us in fighting hate speech and building an inclusive society based on respect and understanding.

Watch out for hate speech against you

People with rare diseases and/or disabilities may face hate speech. Unfortunately, some people may express prejudice, discrimination and hatred towards individuals with unusual health conditions. These negative attitudes can be motivated by a lack of understanding, fear or ignorance of rare diseases.

It is important to remember that all people, regardless of their health conditions, deserve respect, empathy and equality. Hate speech can negatively affect the lives of patients and their families, contributing to social isolation, stigma and discrimination.

Raising awareness of rare diseases and educating people about the importance of inclusion and respect can help combat hate speech. In addition, it is essential that laws and policies to protect the rights of people with rare diseases are implemented and respected, in order to guarantee a fairer and more inclusive society for all.

Forms of hate speech that rare sufferers may experience

Ridicule: Patients with rare diseases can be the target of mockery and cruel jokes, which devalue them and diminish their dignity.

Stigmatization: Some individuals may spread negative stereotypes about people with rare diseases, portraying them in a negative and dehumanizing way, which can lead to social exclusion and discrimination.

Threats and insults: Patients with rare diseases may be the target of verbal threats, verbal abuse and insults aimed at humiliating them and causing them emotional distress.

Dissemination of misinformation: The irresponsible sharing of false or distorted information about rare diseases can lead to stigma and prejudice against patients, affecting their quality of life and access to appropriate treatments.

Exclusion and isolation: Discrimination and hate speech can lead to social exclusion of patients with rare diseases, resulting in isolation, loneliness and difficulty in finding support and understanding.

It is important to note that these examples do not reflect the reality of all cases, but highlight some common forms of hate speech that patients with rare diseases may experience. Awareness, education and the fight against discrimination are essential to build a more inclusive and respectful society for all.

Share your experience! If you are a rare disease patient or a family caregiver and have faced hate speech situations, your story is valuable and can make a difference.

We invite you to share your experience in our comments section below to raise awareness of the impact of hate speech on the lives of people living with rare diseases.

Your story can inspire and encourage other patients, as well as help raise awareness in the general public about the importance of empathy, inclusion and respect.

Share your experiences, challenges you’ve faced, and how you’ve overcome or are dealing with hate speech.

Let’s fight hate speech together and create a supportive and welcoming community for everyone affected by rare diseases.

Your voice matters and can make a difference in the fight against hate speech. Join us and share your story!

Source: With information of UNESCO.

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