Tag - marriage equality

Anti-discrimination Vilification Case Filed Against Hate Speech During the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

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The LGBTI Legal Service lodged today a complaint of vilification against 25 people responsible for engaging in public acts of hate speech during the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey last year.

Last year, the LGBTI Legal Service received State Government funding to monitor and bring to account people engaging in unlawful hate speech during the postal survey. This project resulted in the complaint lodged today with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

During the postal survey, the LGBTI Legal Service collected over 220 examples of hate speech. The hate speech ranges from individual posts on social media pages to neo-Nazi groups plastering posters around university campuses. From these examples, the LGBTI Legal Service selected the worst of the worst to sue under the Queensland vilification laws. These laws prohibit publicly engaging in hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule someone because they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

These Queensland laws draw a line between hate speech and free speech, recognising the harmful and destructive impact of vilification.

Matilda Alexander, President of the LGBTI Legal Service, said:

To those who would publicly vilify and condemn us for our simple acts of love, we say enough is enough. We have been shamed, shunned and looked down on for too many years. We have protections in the law and today we will use those legal protections to fight back.

We lodge this action on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender queer and intersex communities around Australia who endured hatred during the postal survey.  We stand with you and we stand up for you. We are taking this action against people who think “its ok to say no” means it’s ok to say “burn the faggots” or “send poofters to their own island” or “’you are all getting rooftopped” or “Hitler had the right idea about homosexuals, burn them”. These shocking comments are hate speech and today we are holding the perpetrators to account.

The Postal Survey opened the door to homophobia and vilification being expressed under the guise of legitimate debate. This case will close that door.

Contact: Matilda Alexander (President) president@lgbtilegalservice.org

Listen on ABC Breakfast Radio: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/brisbane/programs/breakfast/breakfast/10163254

Frequently Asked Questions

What is vilification?

If someone publicly incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of someone because they identify as lesbian, bisexual, or gay, it may be vilification. Vilification is against the law in Queensland under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld).

Does this conflict with freedom of religion or freedom of speech?

No. Hate speech will not be unlawful if it is done reasonably and in good faith for academic, scientific, artistic, research or religious discussion, or other purposes in the public interest or a fair report of a public act.

When will we know the outcome of the case?

The case will proceed through the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) conciliation process.  If this does not resolve the complaint to our satisfaction we will consider taking it to QCAT. This process could take over a year.  We will be represented by Clayton Utz who have provided pro bono assistance throughout this project.

How can I find out more about laws about hate speech?

A good place to get information is the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland: https://www.adcq.qld.gov.au/resources/lgbti-people/Sexuality-and-your-rights.

Also, if you or anyone you know has experienced unlawful discrimination or vilification (hate speech), we encourage you to book an appointment to speak with our lawyers at the LGBTI Legal Service.

Why now?

There is a 12-month limitation on bringing complaints of discrimination and vilification.  Many people reported hate speech to us over the survey period and we were required to consider each instance through a legal lens in order to decide whether it constituted hate speech and whether an exemption applied.  After doing this, we found we had over 220 cases we could bring, however we wanted to ensure the focus was on the worst offenders.  We have also been working to track down the people responsible for Facebook posts, which took time.

What if people used a different name on Facebook?

Many people engaging in this activity hide behind fake profiles on the internet and IP addresses can be tracked to make real people accountable for actions such as Facebook posts.

Image courtesy Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

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“Like Love” – Stop Hate Speech

The LGBTI Legal Service is running the Like Love project to address vilification during the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey period.

Vilification is a public act or statement that incites others to hate a person or their group because of their gender identity or sexuality. A public act includes publication on the internet. Vilification is UNLAWFUL in Queensland. If you live in Queensland and hear or see something in your neighbourhood, post box, or on social media that incites hatred on the basis of gender identity or sexuality, we advise you to record or screen capture it (including the date and time) and seek legal advice.

Comments saying that, for example, gay people are more likely to be rapists or paedophiles have been found to be unlawful vilification in other legal cases. These kind of comments are not excused by the right to free speech.

The LGBTI Legal Service acknowledges that this time is particularly difficult for many members of our community – if you would benefit from mental health assistance you may want to access one of the services listed on the website of our friends at QuAC.

Have you encountered vilifying material?

If you encounter vilifying material, you may wish to:

  1. Take legal action yourself – in this case we recommend initially seeking legal advice through our free service. Please complete an intake form and send it to us along with the vilifying material. Please be aware that time limitations for seeking legal advice apply.

OR

  1. Submit the offensive material to the LGBTI Legal Service for possible use as part of a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission at the end of the campaign period.

In both cases please contact the LGBTI Legal Service on likelove@lgbtilegalservice.org with the vilifying material attached.

About vilification laws

You can find more general information about vilification on Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commission website at:

Some examples of vilification on the basis of sexuality or gender identity include:

  • a radio host using highly offensive homophobic language, laughing at and belittling gay and bisexual men on the air;
  • posters that say that lesbian mothers are damaging their children because they are exposed to their mothers’ sexuality; or
  • adverse comments inciting hatred towards all gay men written on a gay man’s publicly accessible social media page for his business.

There may also be other options you can consider such as making an application to the Commonwealth Attorney General under the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017 (Cth).

Please note that merely advocating for either the “Vote YES” or “Vote NO” campaigns does not automatically mean that a legal issue arises. The law endeavours to strike a balance between the right to freedom of political communications and the prohibiting of discriminatory speech.

Are you from outside Queensland?

Please note that anti-discrimination and vilification laws vary in each state and territory. If you are located outside Queensland, you can seek legal advice from your local community legal centre. Find your local community legal centre at the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

Have a “Vote NO” enquiry?

Whilst the LGBTI Legal Service actively advocates for the rights and liberties of LGBTI people, including the “Vote YES” campaign, we do not condone unlawful discriminatory or vilifying acts of any person(s). Our service believes in legal equality for all.

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