Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Australia: Hate speech laws to be toughened to stop violent threats online or in the street

Threats or advocacy of violence are normally acknowledged as outside free speech protections

After years of widespread community campaigning, the New South Wales Government will move to strengthen the state's "ineffective" hate speech laws.

Under the proposed legislation introduced to Parliament today, individuals who incite violence against a community or person based on their race could face up to three years in prison and an $11,000 fine.

The bill, if passed, will create a new offence in the Crimes Act of "publicly threatening or inciting violence" on the grounds of race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex or HIV/AIDS status.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman said current provisions in the Anti-Discrimination Act have been ineffective in prosecuting people accused of encouraging violence and have not led to a successful prosecution in 30 years.  "We are very serious with these laws and we will throw the book at anyone who breaches them," he said.

Mr Speakman said there had been a reluctance to use the existing laws because of "procedural hurdles" and the "convoluted wording" of the legislation.

He said the new laws would apply to speech on social media and "anything that is available to the public whether it is transmitted electronically or physically in the street".

"Free speech does not include the right to incite or threaten violence based on peoples' characteristics," he said.

"This has nothing to do with saying things that are controversial, with robust debate, with intense criticism of other groups, this is about stopping violence.

The legislation will abolish offences in the Anti-Discrimination Act that currently carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
'It makes us all a whole lot safer'

Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who introduced a similar bill to Parliament earlier this year, welcomed the announcement.  "For too long some in the Liberal Party have confused freedom of speech with race hate," he said.

"Tough new laws will send a signal to the likes to the extremist fringe that their brand of racism is no longer tolerated under the law."



Anonymous said...

The extremist fringe dregs need to be curtailed !

Stan B said...

The problem is, in America leftists (antifa) equate the espousal of certain ideas (Nazism) as being "equivalent" to violence - and they justify committing violence first in order to prevent the "more horrific" violence their ideological opponents' ideas will eventually lead to. Better to murder Nazis in the streets than become victims in concentration camps!

Once you equate expression of ideas to violence, then expression of those ideas also becomes equal to the threat of violence. Yes, the fringe dregs need to be curtailed, but with very carefully crafted legislation that doesn't sweep up people just talking about ideas (except maybe Socialism...those people are the worst when it comes to committing violence....)

Anonymous said...

Agreed Stan. It is a growing trend to say speech = violence, and one that turns english into newspeak.
Foley is clearly a cretin.
Why is it necessary to create a special offence for incitement to violence based on certain criteria? There are already laws against this. Fix them. And make incitement to violence illegal REGARDLESS of special characteristics. Are we not all equally entitled to be free from violence?
Finally, the law must have a protection against hyperbole. It is easy to say someone deserves to be punched in the throat - it is entirely another thing to either make that happen yourself, or encourage someone else to do so.