Any changes to 18C will have dangerous consequences

The Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Australia sat in Hobart today and heard evidence from a range of stakeholders including Equal Opportunity Tasmania,  Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the University of Tasmania.

The evidence given to the Committee today was overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the current protections contained in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Committee was told by Professor Sarah Joseph from the Castan Centre for Human Rights that any watering down of the current legislation would send a “dangerous” message.

Evidence was given by groups working with minority communities who will be most impacted by any changes to the current provisions.

The Committee heard that racism, including ‘everyday racism’ caused widespread damage to Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse Australians and their communities.

Commissioner Banks from Equal Opportunity Tasmania said that racism causes enormous emotional harm to people that is lasting.  She said that the fear that it will happen again causes people to hide away.

“It is vitally important that the Committee hears how any changes to the legislation will impact on individual Australians and minority communities”, said Graham Perrett MP, Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee.

“As Parliamentarians in positions of relative power, it would be arrogant and irresponsible for us to assume we could have any understanding of what it is like to face the type of racism experienced by many Australians every day.

“I look forward to hearing all of the evidence offered to the Committee including from those who will be most impacted by any proposed changes to the legislation.”



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