Freedom of speech v protection from racial vilification?

PIAC recommends significant amendments to the Exposure Draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of s18C) Bill 2014. 

‘Freedom of speech is a crucial element of informed participation in representative democracy. However, permitting serious insult, offence and humiliation on the basis of a person’s race does not improve Australia’s democracy,’ said PIAC’s CEO, Edward Santow.

‘In relation to racial vilification, the law must strike a balance between permitting the expression of views that might be disagreeable or worse, but drawing a line at speech that causes unreasonable harm to others.

‘It is also important to acknowledge that freedom of speech cannot always be equally exercised. Not everyone has the power or ability to speak up against racism when it happens.’

Although PIAC supports the Attorney-General in seeking to clarify the law, it does not believe that the Exposure Draft strikes the right balance between competing public interests. 

PIAC has identified a number of areas of concern with the Exposure Draft, including the narrow definitions of ‘vilification’ and ‘intimidation’ and the breadth of the exemptions.

You can read PIAC’s submission here.

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