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How You Can Help Reform Hate Speech Laws

This year, our LGBTIQ+ communities have come under increasing attack from the far right. Extremists have sought to incite hatred and intimidate us into cancelling community events across the state.

As a community, we’ve come a long way in securing rights and recognition. However, there is still significant work to be done. You can make your voice heard and influence positive change by participating in the Victorian Government’s anti-vilification law reform process.

Vilification, more commonly called ‘hate speech’, refers to public behaviour that incites or encourages hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule against a person or group of people based on their membership of a particular group.

At present, the law only protects people from vilification based on their race or religion. The current reform process is looking to expand these protections to cover sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, gender or sex, sex characteristics or intersex status, disability and HIV status.

We know that the impact of hate speech, discrimination, and vilification on LGBTIQ+ and HIV communities cannot be underestimated. Many of us have experienced or witnessed derogatory comments, offensive slurs, and harmful stereotypes that perpetuate prejudice and division. These acts not only undermine our collective wellbeing but also hinder progress toward a more equal society.

Earlier this year our communities endured Kellie-Jay Keen Minshull’s transphobic tour, which drew neo-Nazis to the steps of the Victorian Parliament. We’ve endured hateful vitriol and threats leading to the cancellation of community events such as drag story-times across the state, including on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). Plans of solidarity – such as lighting the Shrine of Remembrance with rainbow colours – have been abandoned due to harassment and threats directed toward staff.

We need greater protections to prevent this from happening.

By making a submission to the government’s enquiry, you have the power to share your experiences, stories, and perspectives. Your contribution will be a crucial part of the effort to shape more robust and effective anti-vilification laws that protect the rights and dignity of every member of our community.

Your story matters. Whether you’ve faced discrimination, endured hate speech, or have seen the impact of vilification on someone you care about – or our wider community – your experience can shed light on the urgent need for stronger legal protections. Personal anecdotes can be a powerful tool to illustrate the real-world consequences of hate speech and hate conduct.

Making a submission to the government’s enquiry is a straightforward process, with two options. One is to complete a short survey with three questions regarding what changes should be made to anti-vilification laws. Alternatively, you can write a longer submission, responding to any of the questions in the consultation paper.

To find out more about the anti-vilification reform process, or to make your own submission, head to Engage Victoria website. Submissions close on 8 September.


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