Stop Asian hate signs on building

Anti-vilification law experts from Australia and New Zealand will meet for an online forum on Wednesday 7 July to discuss recent developments in hate laws on both sides of the Tasman.

While laws exist in most democracies to regulate public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence based on someone’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other protected attributes, these laws are controversial because they may be perceived as limiting free speech.

Victoria University’s College of Law and Justice lecturer and panellist Bill Swannie says that parliamentary reviews into anti-vilification laws in Victoria, New South Wales and the Commonwealth may have contributed to confusion as to the purpose of these laws, and the types of harm they seek to prevent:

“Since 2016, we have had heated political and public debate concerning whether these laws are compatible with freedom of expression, and recent changes at Commonwealth level have effectively made it more difficult to commence proceedings for vilification.” 

In Victoria, the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Legislative Assembly reported on its inquiry into Victorian anti-vilification laws in March 2021. The report recommended stronger legislation against vilification and highlighted its serious and enduring harms, particularly for members of target communities.

NZ laws set to change following Christchurch attacks

In New Zealand, a Royal Commission proposed a series of reforms in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque massacres in 2019. The New Zealand Government has promised these long-awaited reforms will be introduced this year.

The panel will explore the impact of these laws on free speech, the purposes they serve, the harms they target, and whether they appropriately balance competing interests.

Panellists will provide an update on recent developments in these two jurisdictions and provide a framework for understanding the nature and purpose of anti-vilification laws.

This panel discussion is a collaboration between the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University and the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law at the University of Auckland.

Join the webinar

Registration is free for the forum, Emerging Developments in Anti-Vilification & Hate Speech Law in Australia and New Zealand.

Date: Wednesday 7 July
Time (Australia): 11.30am-12.30pm (Australian Eastern Daylight Time)
Time (New Zealand): 1.30pm-2.30pm (New Zealand Standard Time)

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Ann Marie Angebrandt
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