While there is no exact legal definition of “hate speech”, it is generally defined by the United Nations as, "any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor." When left unaddressed it can lead to violence or hate crimes against marginalised groups. While some statements may not immediately incite violence, they can spread seeds of intolerance and anger that lead to legitimising acts of hate.
For acts of incitement to result in violence, the following elements need to be present: a context conducive to violence, an influential speaker, a speech act that is widely disseminated, a receptive audience and a target (typically marginalised groups).
An act constitutes incitement to violence when there is intent on the part of the speaker to advocate or cause violence. There also needs to be a likelihood that the act may result in violence. Therefore, while all incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is hate speech, not all hate speech constitutes incitement.