In the light of escalating tensions between the “yes” and “no” campaigns, both the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, have reiterated that the marriage equality debate should be civil, respectful and, importantly, lawful.
Last week, emergency laws under the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill 2017 to ban vilification, intimidation, and threats in the same-sex marriage campaign were rushed through parliament. The new laws provide for offences for bribery and threats and civil penalties in relation to vilification, interference, discrimination and misleading or deceptive publications.
Civil penalties include fines of up to $12,600, however, any legal action for an alleged breach of the new law will need to be approved by Attorney-General George Brandis.
According to a government spokesperson who spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald:
It will be unlawful to vilify, intimidate or threaten to harm a person either because of views they hold on the survey or in relation to their religious conviction, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”
That will be a sunset provision, it will only last for the period of the postal plebiscite.”
The laws are similar to state and territory anti-discrimination laws that do not currently exist at a Commonwealth level.
NSW Anti-Discrimination laws, for example, provide for respectful discussion and debate of matters in the public interest, however, these matters must be done reasonably and in good faith, or risk breaching laws designed to protect the people of NSW from vilification on the grounds of their homosexuality.
It does not restrict discussion or debate that is done reasonably and in good faith, nor does it limit fair reports of acts done by others.
For more information about vilification click here.
If you, or someone you know, has been subject to homosexual vilification, contact:
- Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service on (02) 8594 9596 or 1800 184 527
- Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby on (02) 9571 5501.
If you have been threatened with violence or you are physically attacked contact:
- Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project on (02) 9206 2116 or 1800 063 060
- A chamber magistrate to discuss the possibility of getting an ‘apprehended personal violence order’ to prevent any further violence.
- To find out the address of your nearest magistrate, look under Local Courts in the phone book or refer to the Department of Justice and Attorney General’s website.
- Local police – if you are homosexual or transgender, you may wish to speak with a Gay and Lesbian Police Liaison Officer. Phone (02) 9281 0000 to find out the contact details of the nearest Gay and Lesbian Police Liaison Officer, or contact them through a local police station.
- (02) 926 85544 or
- 1800 670 812