26 September 2023

Public comment invited to beat vilification

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The Victorian Government is seeking community feedback on how to strengthen its anti-vilification protections and come up with better preventions against addressing hate speech and conduct.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety has opened its public consultation on the Engage Victoria website for submissions, with the first stage of the consultation set to close Friday, 8 September.

According to the Department, Victoria’s rich diversity is one of the State’s greatest strengths.

“Hate and violence have no place in our community, and everyone has the right to feel safe in the place they call home,” the Department said.

“Vilification is more commonly understood as hate speech or conduct,” it said.

“It is behaviour that encourages hatred against you because of who you are.

“This can include threats of violence – for example, writing graffiti that encourages violence against people who belong to a particular religious or ethnic group.”

It said that in Victoria, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 protects people from vilification because of their race and religion, however people who are vilified for other reasons – such as their sexuality, gender identity and expression, sex characteristics, disability, and HIV/AIDS status – are not protected by the current laws.

“Vilification is different to discrimination and sexual harassment, which are covered by different laws,” it said.

It said anti-vilification reform was a complex issue which would benefit from broad community feedback, especially from those most often impacted by vilification.

“Consultation will be phased throughout 2023 to allow time for communities to meaningfully contribute,” the Department said.

“You can provide feedback through written submissions on detailed consultation papers or by responding to plain English surveys on Engage Victoria.”

It said translated content, interpreter support and other communication access options are available by contacting [email protected] for further in-language information, telephone interpreters, and any other access needs.

The Department said community feedback would be carefully considered to help inform any changes to the law following the Victorian government’s response to the Parliamentary inquiry into anti-vilification protections

To find out more and share your views, visit the Department’s ‘Engage Victoria’ website at this PS News link.

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