Poliversity is encouraging Australia’s multicultural communities and their representatives to speak out against Family First Senator Bob Day’s bill to weaken Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
In a second attempt to water down the RDA, Senator Day’s bill is calling for the exclusion of the words “offend, insult” from paragraph 18C (1)(a). Currently, Section 18C of the RDA makes it unlawful to: “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people because of their race and ethnicity.”
As a response to Senator Day’s bill, Poliversity has been engaging and consulting with leaders and representatives of Australia’s multicultural communities to seek their views on the amendments.
“Removing the words “offend and insult” from the act will most definitely weaken the protection offered by the current legislation,” said Jieh-Yung Lo, Co-Founder of Poliversity.
“Poliversity believes the RDA as it stands protects the rights of all communities and there is no reason to amend it.
“Instead of weakening the RDA, what the Turnbull Government should be doing is working with communities to eliminate racism and hate speech and continue to introduce measures to building a more harmonious and inclusive Australian society.
In 2014, Attorney-General George Brandis proposed draft legislative amendments to remove Section 18C but was met with a swift response led by Australia’s multicultural and interfaith communities. According to documents obtained under freedom of information laws, more than 76 per cent of 4100 submissions opposed the proposal to repeal Section 18C. In addition to submissions to the government’s review, community groups drafted thousands of letters and staged public gatherings calling on the federal government to withdraw its proposal.
“We urge the Turnbull Government to listen to the community’s concerns expressed a year ago and not support these amendments.
Poliversity congratulates the Australian Labor Party (ALP) for announcing its position to oppose the bill and encourages the minor parties and the crossbenchers in the Senate to do the same.
“It is important for MPs and Senators to understand the importance of Section 18C in the RDA. Parliamentarians needs to demonstrate leadership and take a strong position on racism and hate speech and to ensure that the current legislation in place remains unchanged to protect communities from racial vilification and discrimination”, said Mr Lo.
In response to Senator Bob Day’s bill, Poliversity is encouraging multicultural community leaders and members to make contact with their Senate representatives before Thursday as the bill is listed for debate on Thursday morning.