In response to this article from The Economist, I was wondering if there are any other countries that prohibit this type of speech? Not libel, since that relates directly to issues of the "right to a good name," nor any kinds of blasphemy or profanity laws. Rather, what I'm looking for are laws that are there to protect me from someone harming me, personally, the same way they would using violence, only with words instead, such as catcalling, cursing, or even verbal bullying.
The bottom line is: yes, there are many statutes, in many countries, criminalizing speech based on the fact that the hearer finds them offensive. These may include:
- Laws against extremist political sppech (i.e., anti-Nazi laws)
- Laws against hate speech or racial or sexually discriminatory speech
- Laws against criticizing or hurting the feelings of specific persons (i.e., lese-majeste)
The anti-catcall laws seem to be closest, in purpose and effect, to laws outlawing racial or religious hate speech, which are fairly common in European countries. Catcalling is, essentially, hate speech directed against women, and this seems very similar to other hate speech laws.
According to Russian KoAP 20.1 "Small Hooliganism":
Мелкое хулиганство, то есть нарушение общественного порядка, выражающее явное неуважение к обществу, сопровождающееся нецензурной бранью в общественных местах, оскорбительным приставанием к гражданам, а равно уничтожением или повреждением чужого имущества, -
влечет наложение административного штрафа в размере от пятисот до одной тысячи рублей или административный арест на срок до пятнадцати суток.
A disorderly conduct, in other words, violating the public order, by showing profound disrespect towards the society, together with swearing in public place, offensive bothering of citizens, as well as destruction or damage of another's property, --
is punishable by an administrative fine in the amount of 500 to 1000 roubles, or an administrative arrest of up to 15 days.
In English law, Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 makes it illegal, among other things, to use abusive speech in the hearing of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by it.
You may also want to look at Article 10(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which describes how a state that has signed that convention may restrict people's speech - any such restrictions must be 'prescribed by law', i.e. agents of the state shouldn't make them as the go along, and they must be 'necessary' for one of a set list of legitimate purposes. Of course there is much debate in courts about what is 'necessary'.
In Germany, you can be taken to court for insulting a person. "Insult" means saying derogatory things to them in front of witnesses. "In front of witnesses" is essential, if I record on video that you insult me, with no other person present, I have all the evidence but it isn't legally an insult.
Harassment is not necessary. It is not necessary that the insult is believable (unlike libel where "no person would actually believe this" could be an excuse).
The insulted person can sue you. If you insult an official state employee doing his duty (like a police officer, inland revenue employee, etc.) the state can and will sue you. It's strange for Germans coming to the UK and watching a TV show where an arrested criminal swears at a police officer – don't try that in Germany.