By April Murphy
The state’s vilification and hate crime laws are set for a review in the hope to deliver a fair and inclusive community for all.
The Leader of the House, the Honourable Yvette D’Ath MP, has referred the matter of serious vilification and hate crime to the Queensland Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said that she recognises and values the extraordinary contribution that individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds make to our communities, which is why she is committed to a robust and unified Queensland that is fair, harmonious and inclusive.
“Prior to the last state election, we made a commitment to refer the Cohesive Communities Coalition’s options paper ‘Serious vilification and hate crime: The need for legislative reform’ to an appropriate Parliamentary Committee for review and consultation,” says Ms Fentiman.
Peter Forday, Chair of Multicultural Australia and Co-Chair of the Cohesive Communities Coalition, welcomed the Queensland Government’s commitment to reviewing the state’s hate crime and vilification laws.
“On behalf of all the Queenslanders who are behind this campaign, we say thank you to the Queensland Government and Parliament for embracing this review,” Mr Forday said.
Mr Forday stated that every Queenslander should feel that reporting hate incidents and crime is worth the effort, but that means our laws need to be there to provide the proper protection.
Minister Fentiman said the referral of the options paper would empower the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee to provide Queenslanders with the opportunity to have their say and voice their experiences.
“We want to ensure that all voices are heard and that any potential changes to the law are properly informed by the views and experiences of a diverse range of Queenslanders,” says Ms Fentiman.
Ms Fentiman stated that the Committee would consider the impacts of severe vilification and hate crime on a wide range of groups, including women, people with a disability, older people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and the LGBTIQ+ community.
Minister Fentiman said the Committee would be tasked with ensuring that any recommendations strike a fair balance regarding human rights protected under Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019. Under the act are freedom of expression, freedom of thought, the protection of families and children, as well as every person’s right to liberty and security.
A copy of the Cohesive Communities Coalition’s ‘Serious vilification and hate crime: The need for legislative reform’ options paper can be accessed at https://betterlawsforsafeqld.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SeriousVilificationAndHateCrime_CohesiveCommunitiesCoalition-1.pdf.