26 September 2023

Tougher penalties planned for hate crimes

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The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has announced that new laws increasing penalties for hate crimes and serious vilification offences are to be introduced early this year.

The Department said legislation was being prepared for Parliament to amend the existing offences.

The Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman said Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee had considered the issues last year and recommended serious vilification and hate crime laws be strengthened.

“This includes increasing penalties due to the seriousness of this offending, which seeks to harm and intimidate fellow Queenslanders,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We intend to amend several offences in the statute book to provide for circumstances of aggravation, increasing the maximum penalty where the offence is motivated by hatred or serious contempt for a member of a specified group.”

She said the initiative was intended to support the courts’ treatment of the offences as more serious, and therefore deserving of a more severe punishment.

“It also sends a clear message to the community that offending motivated by prejudice is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We will also amend the existing offence of serious racial, religious, sexuality or gender identity vilification in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 by removing the existing requirement that a proceeding for this offence may not be commenced without the written consent of either myself or the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

She said this would relocate the offence to the Criminal Code, increasing the maximum penalty to three years’ imprisonment.

“We have already taken steps to work towards introducing new laws to make it a criminal offence to display hate symbols that invoke fear in others,” the Minister said.

“This Government is committed to a Queensland that is harmonious, fair and inclusive, not one where individuals or groups are vilified based on their race, religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or gender.”

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