Wor­ries over hate speech prompt emer­gency law

The Citizen (KZN) - - WORLD - Syd­ney

– The alarm­ing vol­ume of hate-speech dur­ing Aus­tralia’s bal­lot over whether to le­galise same-sex mar­riage spurred par­lia­ment to pass emer­gency leg­is­la­tion this week to out­law op­po­nents spew­ing their vit­riol while the vote was in progress.

Aus­tralia be­gan a non-com­pul­sory postal vote on Tues­day that will de­ter­mine whether it be­comes the 25th coun­try to le­galise same-sex mar­riage.

But with an emo­tion­ally charged cam­paign rais­ing con­cerns about the wel­fare of vul­ner­a­ble Aus­tralians, the gov­ern­ment moved to strengthen laws pre­vent­ing hate-speech.

The op­po­si­tion La­bor Party sup­ported the amend­ment, though it had re­jected the need for a bal­lot on the is­sue.

Un­til vot­ing ends on Novem­ber 7, any­one found guilty of in­tim­i­da­tion, or threats to cause harm on the ba­sis of the sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­tity, in­ter­sex status – peo­ple who are born with sex char­ac­ter­is­tics that are not typ­i­cally male or fe­male – or the re­li­gious con­vic­tions of some­one will be li­able to fines of A$12 500 (R132 000) and a court in­junc­tion.

“This Bill can­not stop all of the hurt, all of the lack of ac­cep­tance that is be­ing com­mu­ni­cated to LGBTI Aus­tralians, to same-sex cou­ple fam­i­lies. But it pro­vides lim­ited pro­tec­tions,” said Penny Wong, leader of the op­po­si­tion in the se­nate. –

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