Friday, 11 October 2019 16:53

There’s no place for hate speech in Victoria

Every Victorian should feel welcome and valued in the place they call home – and that’s why media reports this week of a neo-Nazi concert planned for Melbourne should alarm all of us.

Victoria has a proud tradition of welcoming people from all parts of the world – understanding our differences and joining together as a productive, cohesive and respectful community. But divisive extremist views, hate speech and performances that incite hatred and violence are a real threat to a fair, safe and inclusive Victoria. They have no place in our state. 

We recognise freedom of expression as vitally important in a democratic society like ours – but it cannot come at the expense of the dignity and self-worth of others. Vilification is inciting hatred against or contempt for a person or group, or ridiculing them, because of their race or religion. Vilification may be a single instance or may be ongoing. Vilification alienates people from society and limits their ability to participate fully in the social, political and economic life of their community. Nobody deserves that.

Protecting people from vilification – Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001

In Victoria, we have a specific law – the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 – that makes it against the law to vilify someone because of their race or religion. Under the Act, it’s against the law to instruct, encourage or assist another person to vilify someone.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act covers vilification that occurs anywhere in public – including on the street, at a concert or a community event, in the media or on social media.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act works alongside the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities to safeguard human rights and protect people from discrimination, harassment and vilification.

There is work underway to strengthen Victoria’s anti-discrimination and anti-vilification laws. This scenario shows how important it is that these laws are able to protect Victorians from discrimination and hate speech.

What to do if you are harassed, discriminated against or vilified

If you are harassed, discriminated against or vilified because of your race or religious beliefs, we’ve got your back.

  • If you are being vilified and are in immediate danger – contact Victoria Police on 000.

  • If you experience or witness serious racial or religious vilification – report the matter to your local police. You can ask to speak to a multicultural liaison officer who can support you through the reporting process.

  • If you experience racial or religious vilification – you can make a complaint to the Commission on 1300 292 153. Our free, fair and timely dispute-resolution service can help you to resolve your complaint. We can also accept complaints from representative bodies like unions, schools or community organisations on behalf of individuals or groups.

You can find more information about making a complaint to the Commission on our website.

More information on Victoria’s anti-discrimination laws

Find out more about racial and religious vilification and Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act in our Victorian Discrimination Law resource.

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