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Greens Will Fight Weakening of Anti-Discrimination Act

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 19 November 2015

Tags: Equality, Discrimination, Anti-Discrimination Act

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

A conservative Liberal push to weaken Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act will ring alarm bells among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Tasmanians who are currently protected from offensive, humiliating, intimidatory, insulting or ridiculing comments under the law.

During debate on marriage equality last night, the Premier and a number of Liberal MPs flagged possible changes to these legal protections, allegedly in the interests of free speech.

Freedom of speech in Australia and in Tasmania is not an unfettered right.  The provisions in the Anti-Discrimination Act are reasonable and ensure Tasmanians are not subject to discriminatory and hurtful language on the basis of their sexuality.

While it was reassuring to hear the Premier during last night’s debate and in Question Time this morning state his support for a diverse, inclusive Tasmania, any weakening of the Anti-Discrimination Act will have significant potential to cause harm to LGBTI Tasmanians.  His government must tread extremely carefully in this space.

In Parliament yesterday, a petition was tabled calling for the government to remove Section 17 (1) of the Act on the basis that it impinges on free speech.  The Greens strongly believe the Act does not restrict respectful freedom of speech but it does make unlawful language that further marginalises and discriminates against an already marginalised group in our community.

Any review of the Anti-Discrimination Act must include the perspectives of Tasmanians the Act is designed to protect, as well as the wider community.

The Premier needs to be very clear about what the agenda is here and whether he is caving in to the hard Right of his Party at the expense of the very Tasmanians he stood up and spoke for in supporting marriage equality last night.