Monday, May 27, 2024

Australia: Antisemitic chants could be banned under new hate speech laws

Antisemitic phrases chanted by pro-Palestine protesters near the Sydney Opera House following the October 7 terrorist attacks could be banned under hate speech laws being drafted by the federal government.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government had not decided whether people should face jail time for vilifying others based on race, sexuality, gender, disability or religion, but that the government was looking “very closely” at penalties to ensure the laws are effective.

Rowland said the government was determined to act to strengthen protections against hate speech, adding that she believed the issue “should be above politics”.

A four-month forensic police investigation into an alleged antisemitic chant at the Sydney Opera House has found no evidence of criminality.

Asked whether phrases such as “f--- the Jews”, which were chanted at the Sydney Opera House after the October 7 attacks in Israel, could be covered by the hate speech laws, Rowland told Sky News: “Potentially, because if that satisfied the criteria for hate speech, then this would operate in any scenario.”

Rowland said she could not reveal whether the government was considering prison sentences as a potential penalty for hate speech, but added: “I will say that the area of penalties is one that has been examined very closely in terms of ensuring that these laws are effective.”

Rowland said she had received a distressing phone call from a friend whose child attends Mount Scopus, a leading Jewish school in Melbourne where threatening graffiti was found on the front fence on Saturday.

“I’ve never had someone on the phone, a friend like that, so distressed about what’s happened,” Rowland said. “She said, ‘My grandparents and my husband’s grandparents fled the Holocaust, and now we are here in Australia seeing this.’ So it is completely unacceptable.”




1 comment:

Stan B said...

When speech, even speech containing vile OPINIONS, is censored, you are living under fascism. It's just a matter of time until what YOU are saying is declared "unacceptable."