New laws to increase penalties for hate crimes and serious vilification offences have today been introduced to State Parliament.
The reforms amend the Criminal Code to ban the display of hate symbols, such as those representative of Nazi ideology, and introduce tougher penalties for offences that are motivated by hatred or serious contempt and the existing offence of serious vilification.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the new reforms sent a clear message that criminals who commit serious crimes motivated by serious hate and prejudice would face tougher penalties.
“We’re making it illegal for people to publicly display, publish or publicly distribute symbols representative of an ideology of extreme prejudice against a relevant group, because we recognise these symbols erode the safety and security of all Queenslanders,” Ms Fentiman said.
“A hate crime or the serious vilification of an individual or group because of their race, religion, sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity is an attack on a human dignity and will not be tolerated.”
The Criminal Code (Serious Vilification and Hate Crimes) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 gives effect to four key recommendations made by the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee in January 2022 to strengthen Queensland’s hate crime laws.
A statement released by the Queensland Government today said a new ‘Prohibited symbols’ offence would be introduced to protect the community from the distress and insecurity associated with the display of hate symbols.
Under this new offence, public display, public distribution, or publication of prohibited symbols – that might reasonably be expected to cause a member of the public to feel menaced, harassed or offended – are prohibited, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
The offence is intended to capture a wide range of circumstances, including the public distribution or publication of prohibited symbols online, and the public display of tattoos.
The reforms introduced today also amend existing offences to provide for a new circumstance of aggravation for offences, including common assault, going armed so as to cause fear, threatening violence, assault occasioning bodily harm, wilful damage, trespass and public nuisance.
Criminals who commit these offences while motivated, wholly or partly, by hatred or serious contempt based on race, religion, sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity will face increased penalties including longer custodial sentences.