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Mark Dreyfus (ABC News)

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is drafting new hate speech laws that will impose criminal penalties for serious instances of vilification based on a person’s race, sexuality, gender, disability or religion. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Labor’s hate speech bill, which is still being finalised, will enhance the federal protections that exist for minority groups in Australia and stems from the Government’s view that existing laws have not been enforced and are not effective.

“The Albanese Government is committed to promoting and supporting respect, acceptance and understanding across the Australian community,” Mr Dreyfus told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We are committed to protecting the community from those who promote extremism, hatred or seek to incite violence.”

The new hate speech bill would strengthen existing laws while creating new offences carrying criminal rather than civil penalties, and is likely to cover deliberate acts that intend to incite violence or cause harm, according to Government sources speaking anonymously to discuss confidential matters.

The laws will be introduced into a highly charged political context, in which the war in Gaza has escalated concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia in Australia while student protests have spurred confusion over the legal lines between free speech and discrimination.

Labor went to the election with a pledge to protect religious groups, but details reveal that the hate speech legislation will extend safeguards in federal criminal law to all protected attributes including race, gender, sexuality and disability.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese put the issue on the agenda in February when he promised to fast-track hate speech laws. 

He guaranteed they would be introduced to parliament when he split them from the Government’s planned religious discrimination package, which could be shelved if Labor doesn’t get bipartisan support from the Coalition.


Labor’s hate speech bill to outlaw vilification (By Natassia Chrysanthos, Sydney Morning Herald)