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Anti-Discrimination: Report calls for tougher laws on hate crime in Queensland

A parliamentary inquiry into Queensland’s existing laws has found major gaps in reporting serious vilification and hate speech on and offline.

State parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee investigated the need for reform to fight racial abuse and hate crimes in a report released late on Monday.

The report revealed no data was collected by Queensland Police on people experiencing vilification in the state.

Less than nine offences against serious racial, religious, sexuality or gender identity vilification were recorded from 2015 to 2020 under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The report made more than 15 new recommendations, including the need for clearer laws and penalties for hate crimes as well as measures to improve they way they are policed.

Camera IconQueensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been urged to toughen up the state’s anti-vilification laws. NCA NewsWire / John Gass Credit: News Corp Australia

It called for tougher laws on racially motivated attacks include warrants to preserve online communication and banning the display of hate symbols such as the swastika.

The report urged the government to remove the written consent of a State of Queensland Solicitor before trial, labelling it unnecessary.

The committee’s need to balance human rights, including freedom of expression and free of thought was paired with the protection of families and every persons right to liberty and security.

If adopted, the recommendations could be landmark changes for women, people with a disability, the LGBTIQ+ community and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Mosque Holland Park
Camera IconThe Islamic Council of Brisbane’s Ali Kadri believes reporting hate crimes to police is pointless. Image credit: AAP Image/Josh Woning Credit: News Corp Australia

Islamic College of Brisbane chief executive officer and Holland Park Mosque committee member Mr Ali Kadri said it was pointless reporting hate crimes to police as nothing is done, even when there is CCTV footage of the incident.

“Somebody painted a swastika and wrote the name of the terrorist who killed 52 people in Christchurch outside Holland Park Mosque” he told the inquiry.

“A pigs head with the swastika drawn on it was left at school (Islamic College of Brisbane) right before the children were to come into the school.”

Camera IconMaurice Blackburn lawyer Giri Sivaraman has criticised Queensland’s racial vilification laws. Image Credit: David Kelly. Credit: News Corp Australia

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Giri Sivaraman said protection against current racial vilification was “much weaker” in Queensland than defamation laws.

“If any of you were to call me a curry muncher, burnt toast, tell me to go back to where I came from – all things that I have heard in my life – I would have less recourse against you than you would against me if I called you a thief.” Mr Sivaraman told the inquiry.

“We want our diversity to not just be tolerated but to be celebrated, and what vilification does is it forces people into retreat, into their shells, into feeling separate from the community at large.”

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