25 February 2020
Submission to inquiry into anti-vilification protections
One of the most significant threats to full and equal participation is hate. Whether directed at someone for their race or religion, or their gender, sexual orientation or disability, hate creates barriers to participation and inclusion, increasing inequality and entrenching disadvantage. CMY strongly condemns all forms of hate and recognises the critical role laws play in actively discouraging hate and sending a clear message that hateful behaviour and attitudes are not acceptable.
CMY recently made a submission to the Victorian Government’s Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee Inquiry into anti-vilification protections. Submissions can be viewed on the Parliament of Victoria’s website here.
A series of public hearings will take place on 25 February and March 11, 12, 25 and 26, which are open to the public. The focus of the inquiry is on the effectiveness of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and its possible expansion and/or extension of protections beyond what is currently covered.
CMY welcomes this inquiry almost two decades on, as an important and timely opportunity to re-examine anti-vilification legislation. Hate speech and vilification cause considerable harm, and can be particularly damaging for young people.
“We know from our work with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds across Victoria that experiences of hate speech and racism are on the rise, particularly in our increasingly ‘online’ world.”
“This is an area of real concern for all of us, because we see the direct and lasting effects of racism and hate on a community, and particularly on young people.”Carmel Guerra, CMY CEO
In CMY’s submission to the inquiry, we called on the Committee to:
- look at measures to increase access to redress mechanisms for victims of vilification
- recommend the expansion of protections from vilification to gender, sexual orientation and disability
- look at legislative mechanisms to strengthen protections from vilification online.
Alongside this inquiry, CMY shares the concerns raised by many organisations and individuals in relation to the Australian Government’s Religious Freedom Bills. The outcome of this legislation is expected to have repercussions at a state level. An overview of the bills can be found here.
We believe that people with faith-based beliefs should be protected from discrimination; however we are concerned that the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 will have an adverse effect on many young people. By privileging religious expression over anti-discrimination protections, the Bill runs the risk of further enabling discrimination of already marginalised groups of young people, including LGBTIQ+, people with disabilities, and women.
CMY is concerned that this Bill could have a lasting, damaging impact on youth mental health, preventing vulnerable groups from accessing appropriate support services, education and employment opportunities.
CMY strongly encourages the Victorian Government to engage where it can with Federal counterparts to highlight the concerns of all Victorians in regards to this Bill. Equally, we call on all Federal Members of Parliament and the Senate to consider the significant and lasting negative impacts such a Bill could have on the social cohesion of Australian society, and work to ensure this Bill is not passed into legislation.