The NSW Government will introduce new legislation to Parliament that prohibits vilification on the grounds of religious belief, affiliation or activity.
The NSW Labor Government committed to amending the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to prohibit religious vilification within its first 100 days in office.
The Bill amends the Anti-Discrimination Act to make it unlawful to, by a public act, incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons, because of their religious belief, affiliation or activity.
A ‘public act’ includes any form of communication to the public, verbal and non-verbal.
The amendments in the Bill are modelled on the existing provisions that make vilification unlawful on the grounds of race, homosexuality, transgender status and HIV/AIDS status.
This new law will also protect people who do not hold religious beliefs or affiliations or who do not engage in religious activity, in recognition that these are also beliefs about religious matters that should be protected.
The Government consulted closely on the proposed amendments with a broad range of stakeholder groups, including religious faith and religious advocacy organisations and community advocacy organisations, legal stakeholders and NSW Government agencies.
“No one should have to encounter public hate due to their religious beliefs, and it is high time the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 was changed to reflect this,” NSW Attorney General Michael Daley said about the announcement.
“For the most part, we are a tolerant society, and we welcome people to NSW from all over the world. However, we need to have laws that protect people of faith from public actions that incite hatred, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule for religious beliefs.
“We committed, as an election promise, to introduce legislation making religious vilification unlawful within our first 100 days in office. We are here to make good on our promises and get things done by making this change to the Anti-Discrimination Act.”
NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Steve Kamper, said: “The unfortunate reality is that certain forms of religious vilification are on the rise. No matter your personal beliefs, this is unacceptable.”
“Members of the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths have all raised concerns about the growing levels of intolerance towards members of their communities,” Mr Kamper added.
“This much needed legislation will provide our faith communities with similar protections provided to members of diverse and multicultural communities.”