When Can Compliments and Humor Be Considered Hate Speech? A Perspective From Target Groups in Portugal


This article presents a qualitative study that examines hate speech (HS) from the perspectives of the most representative minority communities in Portugal, namely Afro-descendants, Roma, and LGBTQ+. The empirical research employed three focus groups, each with a representation of these communities (n=17), with the primary goal of investigating how members of these groups perceive and experience HS within the Portuguese social and geopolitical context. The results indicate that covert HS can be more detrimental than overt HS since the targeted individuals are often caught off guard and unsure how to respond, contributing to the continuation of systems of oppression and social decline. Additionally, our qualitative data show that covert forms of HS often manifest in the form of compliments and humour, common in various settings, such as the workplace, the media, and the online environment. These devices are communicative strategies anchored in both positive and negative stereotypes and may lead to the normalization of HS in Portuguese society. In this regard, this research draws attention to the significance of identifying covert forms of HS and devising strategies, such as counter-speech, to debunk them. Furthermore, it highlights the need for automatic detection of covert HS since these forms are prevalent in digital platforms.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [0.98 MB]