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Aust.: Concern at Racial & Religious Tolerance Act

The Greens say the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act requires careful monitoring

"Despite the good intent behind recent amendments to Victorian vilification law, it is still causing confusion and concern for some in the community,” said Jim Reiher, Greens spokesperson for Religious and Multicultural Affairs, and candidate for the South Eastern Metropolitan Upper House region. "The fear is that freedom of speech has been compromised by this legislation."

Amendments to the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act passed by the
Victorian parliament recently, aim to reduce the risk of frivolous complaints and encourage the early and effective resolution of disputes, while permitting proselytizing that does not vilify others.

"These are all steps in the right direction," said Jim Reiher. “The
Greens believe hate speech, whether it is based on religious, race or any other differences, must be vigorously opposed. This is consistent with our belief in democracy and multiculturalism."

"However, a question remains to be answered: will these amendments to the law create more tension between cultural groups or will they reinforce harmony in our community?"

The current Victorian legislation is designed to improve racial and religious harmony, but opinion is divided about whether it is achieving this goal. Some argue that the laws have stirred up division.

"Only time will tell if the recent changes will achieve their intention and so the amended law will require close monitoring. We need both effort and goodwill to continue building a multicultural Victoria that also protects our freedoms," said Jim Reiher.

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