Critics of Mr Varadkar are pointing out how observed it is that he can’t confirm how many genders there are despite “other than male or female” being protected categories in his government’s new hate speech bill.
The hate speech bill according to Irish media RTE “aims to tackle the inadequacies in the law by tackling both incitement to hatred and hate speech". The proposed bill has sparked large public criticism and debate with politicians from across the Irish political spectrum coming out against the bill. Critics argue that the hate speech bill is too vague and open to interpretation and that the bill could have severe limitations on freedom of speech in Ireland because of how open to abuse the current proposal appears to be.
Within the bill itself it defines the definition of what “gender” is as: "The gender which a person expresses as the person’s preferred gender, or with which the person identifies, and includes transgender, and a gender other than those of male and female".
Within the bill there are three clauses which critics argue could be easily manipulated and are far too vague to be imposed upon the Irish people. Those clauses are section 7, 8 and 10.
Section 7 says it will be a crime if a person "communicates material to the public or a section of the public, or behaves in a public place in a manner that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons, on account of their protected characteristics".
Section 8 is another clause which critics argue is especially vague. It says "condoning, denying or grossly trivialising genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace". It goes on to say that a person’s behaviour in a public place or the communication of such material could be proven as a crime if there is provable "intent to incite violence or hatred".
Section 10 is very concerning to critics of the bill because it has the potential to criminalise viewing or owning of material that others deem to be offensive.
It says "possesses material that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons... with a view to the material being communicated to the public or a section of the public, whether by himself or herself or another person".
The hate speech bill has the potential to shape the public conversation in Ireland and many believe could limit freedom of speech. Critics argue that if the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar himself can’t specify how many genders there are then it shows how vague and open to abuse the hate speech bill is.