The Victorian Greens will introduce a bill to Parliament this week that would expand the state’s anti-vilification laws, in a bid to better protect LGBTIQA+ communities from hate.
In recent months, Victoria’s LGBTIQA+ communities have faced increasing levels of harassment, abuse, and threats of violence.
This year alone, anti-trans groups have converged on the steps of Parliament alongside neo-Nazis, members of Parliament have used their platform to spout anti-trans hate, and drag story time events have been cancelled in the face of threats from the far-right.
All of this has been done without consequence as a result of our current anti-vilification laws.
The Greens’ Racial and Religious Tolerance Amendment (Anti-Vilification) Bill 2023 would amend the state’s anti-vilification laws – which currently only protect Victorians from racial and religious vilification – to include vilification on the basis of sexuality and gender.
It would also amend the laws to make it unlawful to vilify someone on the basis of their HIV/AIDS status, intersex status or disability.
Victorian Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson, Gabrielle de Vietri, said the queer community was strong in the face of discrimination, but that while gaps existed in our laws, they would continue to face vilification.
She said the Greens’ bill would make clear, in law, that anti-LGBTIQA+ hate has no place in Victoria, and help prevent the events in recent months from ever happening again.
In 2019, the Victorian Labor Government voted down a bill introduced by Fiona Patten to expand these protections.
Then in 2021, following a parliamentary inquiry, the Victorian Labor Government gave in-principle support to expand the state’s anti-vilification protections, yet to date nothing has happened.
And while the Attorney-General recently suggested the Government would likely move on anti-vilification reform “within the next 18 months”, Ms de Vietri said that simply wasn’t good enough and that the time to act was now.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson, Gabrielle de Vietri MP:
“The Victorian Labor Government has known about the need to expand our anti-vilification laws for years now, but refused to act.
“And now we’re seeing neo-Nazis, the far-right, and even members of our own Parliament feel emboldened to spout anti-LGBTIQA+ hate.
“We are grateful for the work Fiona did to raise this issue back in 2019. Four years, and much hurt later, I hope that these overdue protections will finally be supported.
“We know LGBTIQA+ communities face disproportionate levels of depression, self-harm and suicide, and it’s so often because of views like these.
“If equality is ‘non-negotiable’, what is the Government waiting for?
“We need to reform our anti-vilification laws as a matter of urgency, and the Greens are ready to act now.”