We’ve just submitted our submission to the Federal Government Free Speech Inquiry. The top points were:
- There is no evidence that the Act in general has been effective in reducing or eliminating discrimination. In fact, what evidence there is suggests that discrimination has increased in the recent past.
- There should be no right to be free from words or conversation that might “offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate”. Only words or actions which amount to threats of physical violence should be actionable.
- Sufficient protection of individual reputation is available on a non-discriminatory basis through defamation law.
- Privileging groups and feelings in law creates a less resilient and more divided society.
- It should be obnoxious to the law that any action can be criminalised on the subjective basis of how someone else might view it.
- Section 18D does not provide an adequate protection. Concepts of “fair” and “fair and accurate” brought into precedent in the case of Eatock v Bolt narrow its protection unreasonably. Section 18D provides no protection in social situations, which is where it is most likely issues of offence, insult, humiliation, or intimidation might occur, but where, apart from potential acts of violence, non-judicial and social forms of redress are most appropriate.
- It is too easy for complainants to make a complaint under this section, with no chance of success, but to which the respondent can be forced to respond. The process becomes the punishment.
- The Commission applies its discretions under the Act unevenly and secretively, which undermines any confidence in the act that might be justified.
To read the whole submission click here.