Dignity, religion and freedom of expression in South Africa
The issue that this article dealt with is whether, in South African law, speech that infringes upon the religious feelings of an individual is protected by the dignity clause in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The Constitution, as well as the Broadcasting Code, prohibits language that advocates hatred, inter alia, based on religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm. Dignity, which is a central Constitutional right, relates to the sense of self worth which a person has. A Court has held that religious feelings, national pride and language do not form part of dignity, for purposes of protection in law. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has, similarly, decided that a point of view seriously derogatory of ‘Calvinistic people’ blaming (some of) them as being hypocritical and even acting criminally is not protected by dignity. It would have to be accompanied by the advocacy of hatred as defined previously. The author, however, pointed out that on occasion different facts might found a finding in law that religion is so closely connected to dignity, that it will indeed be regarded as part thereof.