The Victorian Pride Lobby and multicultural community leaders have welcomed moves to strengthen anti-vilification laws as they warn of an increase in prejudice and hate crime.
A Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into anti-vilification laws gave its recommendations to government this week.
The inquiry recommends the state government ban on Nazi symbols and Germany’s Third Reich insignia from public display in Victoria.
It also recommends extending anti-vilification laws to also cover gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and HIV status.
Committee chair Natalie Suleyman said the inquiry was told “vilification is common” for many Victorians, including women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Muslims, Jews, LGBTIQ+ people and Victorians a disability.
Victorian Pride Lobby co-convenor Nevena Spirovska (pictured) said the stronger laws will give an important avenue for recourse to LGBTIQ people who suffer harm.
“Over one in three LGBTIQA+ Victorians have experienced harassment in a public place in the last year,” Spirovska said.
“[The] recommended reforms to protect our communities from the harms of hate speech are long overdue but very welcome.”
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown also warned of a “disturbing rise in hate-based crime and hate speech against LGBTIQ+ people.”
“We need laws that ensure everyone can participate fully in their community, school or workplace without fear or attack, no matter who they are or whom they love,” she said.
Abuse of Asian-Australians increases during COVID-19 pandemic
Multicultural community leaders also report increased incidents of racial vilification, particularly online and in schools.
The Asian Australian Alliance said harassment and abuse of Asian Australians had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many as 90% of incidents go unreported, the Alliance said.
The inquiry has given 36 recommendations to the Victorian government.
The committee also recommended making it easier to substantiate completes and better data collection on rates of hate-based conduct.
The inquiry began in 2019 after Premier Daniel Andrews claimed a “deficiency in the law” prevented him from shutting down a neo-Nazi music festival.
Other recent incidents in which vandals displayed or graffitied swastikas in public places have outraged Jewish advocates.
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