The Victorian Greens will introduce a bill to Parliament this week to expand the state’s anti-vilification laws, in a bid to better protect LGBTIQA+ communities from hate.
Victorian Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson, Gabrielle de Vietri said in recent months, LGBTQIA+ communities have faced increasing levels of harassment, abuse, and threats of violence.
Organisers have also cancelled multiple Victorian drag story time events over safety concerns after vile threats from far-right opponents.
Gabrielle de Vietri said the recent events had exposed shortcomings in current anti-vilification laws.
“The Victorian Labor Government has known about the need to expand our anti-vilification laws for years now. But they’ve refused to act,” Gabrielle said.
“And now we’re seeing neo-Nazis, the far-right, and even members of our own Parliament feel emboldened to spout anti-LGBTIQA+ hate.”
She said the Greens will this week introduce the Racial and Religious Tolerance Amendment (Anti-Vilification) Bill 2023.
The draft bill would amend anti-vilification laws – which currently only protect Victorians from racial and religious vilification – to include sexuality and gender.
The proposal would also make it unlawful to vilify someone on the basis of HIV status, intersex status or disability.
Victorian Attorney-General warns against rushing reform
In 2019, the Victorian Labor Government rejected MP Fiona Patten’s bill to expand those legal protections. Labor rejected that bill at the time for being too broad.
“Four years, and much hurt later, I hope that these overdue protections will finally be supported,” Victorian Greens MP Gabrielle de Vietri said on Monday.
“We know LGBTIQA+ communities face disproportionate levels of depression, self-harm and suicide. And it’s so often because of views like these.
“If equality is ‘non-negotiable’, what is the Government waiting for?
“We need to reform our anti-vilification laws as a matter of urgency, and the Greens are ready to act now.”
Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes told The Age the state government would act on the issue this year.
She said consultation was underway but argued the government could not rush the reform.
“If I thought a stroke of a pen would stop horrible people causing fear in minority groups, then of course I would have done that,” she told The Age.
“But you can’t legislate without consultation in this incredibly complex area of law.
“We won’t be rushed by those trying to score cheap political points over this issue. We’ll continue to work closely with multicultural and faith communities, members of the LGBTIQ+ community and advocates to get this law right.”
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