“Vilifying conduct is contrary to democratic values because of its effect on people of diverse ethnic,indigenous and religious backgrounds. It diminishes their dignity, sense of self-worth and belonging to the community. It also reduces their ability to contribute to, or fully participate in, all social, political, economic and cultural aspects of society as equals, thus reducing the benefit that diversitybrings to the community”
Such laws arguably set public standards and provide a platform for education of the public and particular sections of it such as the media.
The possibility of significant awards of damages,adverse publicity and the threat of criminal charges may also act as a brake on the most extremeforms of racist, homophobic and transgender violence, harassment and intimidation. In the years prior to the introduction of Commonwealth legislation, three national enquiries into race-relatedissues recommended legislation in relation to racial and religious hatred.
The “Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) (R&RTA)” starts with an extensive preambleof four paragraphs, which sets out specific
objects and purpose
clauses. The content of these provisions reflects the contentious context of this enactment. The preamble also reflects on thevalues of
‘freedom of expression’
in addition to the ‘right of all citizens to participate equally insociety’, the diverse ethnic and indigenous and religious backgrounds of people of Victoria, and thatslanderous conduct contradicts directly the democratic values for they diminish the ‘dignity, senseof self-worth and belonging to the community’ of the people vilified.The statute recites that vilifying conduct: “
also reduces … [people's] ability to contribute to, or fully participate in, all social, political, economic and cultural aspects of society as equals, thusreducing the benefit that diversity brings to the community
N Hennessy and P Smith, “Have We Got it Right? NSW Racial Vilification Laws Five Years On” (1994) 1
Australian Jnl of Human Rights
Mary Tibbey, “Developments in anti-vilification laws” (2001) 21
Aust Bar Rev