NSW Government signals reforms to state’s vilification laws to protect all LGBTI people

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby today welcomed the Berejiklian Governments moves to strengthen protections for LGBTI communities in NSW via the passage of the Crimes Amendment (Publicly Threatening and Inciting Violence) Bill 2018.
“The limited coverage offered by previous the NSW anti-vilification framework was in clear need of reform and this Bill presented a strong opportunity for the Government to make it clear that vilification in NSW under no circumstance, is acceptable. This is a reform process NSWGLRL have worked very closely on for many, many years.”
“We are pleased to have worked with the Keep NSW Safe alliance across multi-faith and multi-cultural lines, the then Attorney-General, the member for Vaucluse, the Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP, and Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian, AO, who undertook broad community consultation beginning in November 2016 and to date, with Attorney General Speakman to come to consensus on creating a framework for strengthening social cohesion.” says Lauren Foy of NSWGLRL.
Attorney General Speakman has informed that legislation will create a new offence in the Crimes Act of publicly threatening or inciting violence against people on the grounds of race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics or HIV/AIDS status, including a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine of $11,000.
This means that any form of communication (including speaking, writing, displaying notices, playing of recorded material, broadcasting and communicating through social media and other electronic methods) to the public, and any conduct (including actions and gestures and the wearing or display of clothing, signs, flags, emblems and insignia) observable by the public, as well as the distribution or dissemination of any matter to the public will become illegal. Such an act may be a public act even if it occurs on private land.
Significantly, the new offence will be investigated by the NSW Police Force and require the approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions to commence a prosecution, making the process of complaint and investigation more stream lined as per the recommendations of Standing Committee on Law and Justice to inquire and report into the serious racial vilification offence in the Anti-Discrimination Act from 2013.
NSWGLRL are encouraged by these new reforms and congratulate the Attorney General on progressing this work. It is certainly a welcomed step in the right direction for many communities in NSW, with legislation now providing protections for bisexual people and people with atypical sex characteristics. Such considerations and the adoption of these legislative change see NSW brought into line with the Commonwealth and other states and territories with respect to these matters.
However, exemptions relating to discriminatory acts that are permitted or necessitated by legislation still continue to remain outstanding in the NSW Anti-Discrimination laws.
As such, NSWGLRL consider LGBTI issues should have been simultaneously addressed in conjunction with reforms to racial vilification, specifically, reform to section 20C and 20D of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) – this was a missed opportunity.
For equal opportunity protections to truly extend to LGBTI people in NSW, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) must be amended.
“NSWGLRL believes that the groundswell of support is moving in the direction of removing the last bastion of remaining discriminations against LGBTI Australians in NSW. We also note the hurtful, vitriolic debate regarding the survey on changes to the Marriage Act (Cth), the contributions of some religious bodies to the “no” debate” and the negative impact that this debate had on LGBTI Australians living in NSW.
NSWGLRL support the proposal to hold all people, including religious bodies, more accountable for their actions and the effect that their actions have on LGBTI people living in NSW. Just as these laws protecting identified groups from threats of violence are important to securing the safety of NSW communities, laws and principles of non-discrimination are also paramount to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to protecting our diverse and vibrant communities for the benefit of all New South Wales residents.” Says Foy

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