Queensland Law Society has told a parliamentary inquiry that the barriers to prosecuting vilification and hate crimes under section 131A of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 should be removed.
QLS President Elizabeth Shearer, Chair of QLS Human Rights and Public Law Committee Dan Rogers and QLS Legal Policy graduate Irene Gallagher appeared before the parliamentary Legal Affairs and Safety Committee inquiry into serious vilification and hate crime last week.
Anti-vilification laws play an important role in protecting rights to a peaceful existence, free from harassment and vilification. In its submission, QLS acknowledged the harmful impacts serious vilification and hate crimes have on people in Queensland, a diverse and multicultural society.
It made three key recommendations at the public hearing on 9 September:
- Removing the barriers to prosecution of the existing offence, under section 131A of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld), including the requirement to obtain consent from a Crown Law officer before commencing proceedings.
- QLS advocated for a systemic response to vilification and hate crime, and supported investment in police training, community awareness and education. Further, increased funding to community legal centres and Human Rights Commissions was supported. QLS cautioned that introducing further offences would be unlikely to resolve the existing barriers to pursuing redress for serious vilification and hate crime.
- Introducing serious vilification and hate crime as a circumstance of aggravation for existing offences. This would provide for recognition of the harmful impacts of serious vilification and hate crime, including by facilitating the imposition of stronger penalties where the offending has the character of serious vilification or hate crime. Moreover, a circumstance of aggravation would allow for improved data collection regarding serious vilification and hate crime prevalence in Queensland, and the extent of prosecutions for that behaviour.
Read the full submission.