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Can religious vilification laws protect religious freedoms?

Rick Sarre writes in The Conversation (19.7.16) about legislative options available to bolster the defence of civil freedoms, in the face of continued racial and, especially, religious vilification within Australian society.

'On June 28, the Thornlie Mosque and Australian Islamic College in Perth was targeted by vandals. A vehicle was destroyed by fire, and offensive graffiti was sprayed on a nearby wall.

'True, the law courts can respond accordingly if the offenders are caught, given this attack involved criminal offences. But is there not also a role for anti-vilification legislation to bolster society’s defences against the more overt and worrisome displays of religious bigotry?

'... Given the muscles that the One Nation senators can now flex in Canberra, and given the campaign being waged by the Institute of Public Affairs, not to mention the simmering antipathy towards Section 18C of both Attorney-General George Brandis and conservative columnist Andrew Bolt, one can safely assume that the section will not be widened in the foreseeable future by any new “religious vilification” amendment.

'That would simply be pouring petrol on the fire that Pauline Hanson is likely to start lighting under the Racial Discrimination Act very soon.'


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