Austrians can swear, make obscene gestures at politicians, court rules

Protesters staged a demonstration during the inauguration of the new coalition government in Austria in December.
Protesters staged a demonstration during the inauguration of the new coalition government in Austria in December. Photo credit: AAP

Citizens have the right to "give the finger" or swear at politicians as long as they have a justification behind the action, an Austrian court has ruled.

Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Cristian Strache had accused a group of far-left activists of "public insults" after they released a video attacking him on social media.

But the Court of Appeal in Vienna dismissed the complaint on free speech grounds.

The right to "provocative and shocking" political opinion is a "fundamental part of freedom of expression", the court ruled, confirming an earlier decision by a lower court.

The Linkswende Jetzt, or Left Now, group had produced a video that offered a series of reasons for supporters to declare "F**k Strache" and raise their middle fingers to the leader of the far-right Freedom Party.

Mr Strache, a senior official in Austria's coalition government, argued they were defaming the state.

He is currently facing a lawsuit of his own from the national broadcaster, after he accused it of spreading lies, propaganda and fake news in a series of Facebook posts.

Newshub.