Vilification on the grounds of religion is now illegal and in serious cases could result in a criminal conviction with a fine of up to $7500, under laws passed by the ACT parliament.
Brisbane Times (h/t Marina) Both Labor and Liberal (Liberal = Conservative in Australia) supported the move put by the Greens Shane Rattenbury, who said the display of hatred, intolerance and offensive behaviour towards Muslims was one of the biggest intolerance issues in Australia today.
The University of South Australia had found about 10 per cent of Australians were highly Islamophobic, and while the ACT showed the lowest rates in the country, Islamophobia was still significant here.
“It is clear [Muslims] are frequently, almost constantly, exposed to discrimination, vilification and targeted offensive behaviour,” he said.
Thursday’s changes to the Discrimination Act also added disability to the list, so it is now illegal to vilify someone because of disability, religion, race, sexuality, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS status. Vilification can include social media posts, actions in a workplace and wearing clothes, signs or flags that would incite hatred, contempt, ridicule or revulsion.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the change was not designed to limit freedom of speech but to “ensure the political discourse does not descend into hatred.” (Limiting freedom of speech is exactly what it does…except if you’re a Muslim)