PIAC welcomes decision on racial discrimination

PIAC has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision not to proceed with proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, after those proposed changes were widely criticised by community leaders, experts including PIAC and the wider public.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to: ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people ‘because of their race or ethnicity’.

The proposed law would have removed protections against offending, insulting or humiliating someone.

In a submission to the Federal Government, PIAC showed through its experience how the proposed reforms would not have struck the right balance between competing public interests. 

‘Freedom of speech is a crucial human right but so too is the right not to be vilified on the basis of your race or ethnicity. Serious race-based insult, offence and humiliation can be deeply wounding and threatens important aspects of Australia’s liberal democracy,’ said Edward Santow, PIAC’s CEO.

‘The law must strike balance between expression of views that might be offensive, but draw a line at speech that causes unreasonable harm.’

‘Our experience working with people who have suffered racial discrimination suggests that the Australian Government has made the right decision not to proceed with the proposed changes, and we applaud the Government for listening to the community on this issue.’

Read PIAC’s submission.

Photo: Flickr 

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