The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is conducting an inquiry into freedom of speech in Australia.
This inquiry will look at:
– Whether parts of the Racial Discrimination Act (including sections 18C and 18D) impose unreasonable restrictions upon freedom of speech, and if so, how 18C and 18D should be reformed
– Whether the handlings of complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission should be reformed
– Whether the operation of the Commission should be otherwise reformed to better protect freedom of speech and, if so, what those reforms should be.
FECCA and its members are against proposals to water down the racial vilification provisions in the Racial Discrimination Act, including proposals to amend section 18C.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act provides important protection against racially motivated attacks, including hate speech, against members of Australia’s migrant, refugee and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The 2014 debate on this issue was extensive and does not need to be re-opened. There was an overwhelming community response against changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
By re-opening the debate about 18C, the Government is sending a message to the community that essentially anything goes in the name of free speech, and that racism is acceptable.
FECCA and its members are concerned about the progressively hostile attitudes toward Muslim Australians and other minority groups. There has been a rise in anti-multiculturalism rallies and racist attacks, which promote feelings of exclusion and fear in the community.
FECCA and its members urge the Government to show leadership on issue of racism to ensure that there is no tolerance for racial discrimination and vilification in Australian society.
Actions that you can take
Contact your local MP and Senators to tell them that you oppose changes to section 18C and tell them your experiences, and the experiences of your community, with racism and hate speech. You can use some of the key messages above.
Postal addresses, email addresses and phone numbers available here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members.
Download a PDF of the release here.