19 September 2023

Fitzroy Legal Service is pleased to have made a submission to Stage 1 of the Victorian Government’s consultation on Strengthening Victoria’s laws against hate speech and hate conduct, which is looking into strengthening Victoria’s anti-vilification laws. 

Fitzroy Legal Service assists a wide range of communities that are targeted by vilification, including: racialised communities; religious minorities; people with disabilities; LGBTIQA+ communities; people who use drugs; and people experiencing homelessness. We work with these communities every day, and we know that our clients are often targets of hate. 

Vilification is inciting hatred against someone because they are part of an oppressed group. There are some protections in Victoria, however they are very difficult to prove and currently only protect against racial and religious vilification. The government is proposing to add protections based on disability (including specifically HIV/AIDS status), LGBTIQ+ communities, sex/gender, and people who are personally associated with targeted groups. 

In our submission, we strongly supported the expansion and strengthening of anti-vilification protections in Victoria to prevent hate speech against people in our community.

In addition to protected attributes proposed by the government, we also advocate for the inclusion of sex workers; people experiencing homelessness; immigrants; people with blood-borne viruses; asexual people; and people with non-personal associations with targeted groups, such as those providing goods or services.  

Protections also must be able to be considered from an intersectional lens, to reflect the compounding harm and impact of vilification when a person or group has more than one protected attributes: 

“Each person has a whole identity, which is made up of intersecting attributes. While race, religion and gender may be conceptually divisible, those three factors are not divisible for that person, but rather make up their whole. “ 

 FLS also argues that anti-vilification laws must consider the context (social, historical and political) and power dynamics (status and position of the speaker) should be included in the legal test for vilification: 

“Recognising the historical context and resulting power dynamics that feed vilification is therefore important when addressing vilification… It is vital that anti-vilification legislation reflects these factors and is directed to addressing the systemic nature of disadvantage to protect marginalised groups.” 

Critically, in our submission we recommend that “Resourcing should be provided to Community Legal Centres and other legal services to assist communities targeted by vilification and effectively utilise the protections.” Currently, anti-vilification laws are rarely used to protect the community from hate speech . Community Legal Centres have an important role in making the protections accessible to communities, because of our deep connections to our communities, we are embedded in communities at a grassroots level and we have close relationships with community service partners. 

FLS welcomes the opportunity to provide further input into Stage 2 and 3 of the consultation process.  

Other news

Night Service victim-survivor of gendered violence
June 12, 2024
Gemma’s case is not unique (CW: gendered-violence) 
Read article ›
FLS appoints new CEO Hamish McLachlan
May 30, 2024
Fitzroy Legal Service’s Board appoints new CEO, Hamish McLachlan
Read article ›
Job Expo for Lived and Living Experience
May 23, 2024
Groundbreaking jobs expo to challenge barriers for women locked out of employment 
Read article ›
IDAHOBIT DAY
May 17, 2024
Fitzroy Legal Service and Q+Law celebrate IDAHOBIT Day
Read article ›
Australia must do more to secure a ceasefire in Palestine
May 14, 2024
Australia must do more to secure a ceasefire in Palestine
Read article ›
FLS's free Divorce Clinic
April 30, 2024
Family Law and Family Violence team reignite FLS’s Divorce Clinic
Read article ›
A msg from the CEO, Hamish McLachlan
April 30, 2024
Message from the CEO – April 2024  
Read newsletter ›
Amity Mara, Manager, Policy, Advocacy and Projects
April 29, 2024
Five minutes with Amity Mara
Read post ›
April 15, 2024
Migration Bill denies safe pathways for people seeking asylum in Australia
Read post ›
March 28, 2024
Message from the CEO – March 2024  
Read newsletter ›
Rebecca Johnston-Ryan, Service Director and Principal Lawyer, Night Service
March 27, 2024
Five minutes with FLS Night Service Director and Principal Lawyer, Rebecca Johnston-Ryan
Read post ›
March 26, 2024
FLS welcomes new volunteers for 2024 
Read post ›
March 15, 2024
FLS submission to amend Australia’s Family Law Act  
Read post ›
February 29, 2024
Message from the CEO – February 2024  
Read newsletter ›
FLS 2024 Trainee Lawyer
February 29, 2024
Welcoming FLS’s 2024 Trainee Lawyer
Read post ›
A message from the CEO, January 2024, Hamish McLachlan
January 31, 2024
Message from the CEO – January 2024  
Read newsletter ›
January 18, 2024
Fitzroy Legal Service doors remain open this Invasion Day
Read post ›
Hamish McLachlan
January 9, 2024
Introducing FLS Interim CEO, Hamish McLachlan  
Read post ›
November 28, 2023
In the future, people like Thuy will no longer face unfair barriers
Read post ›
November 8, 2023
FLS announces CEO departure following a legacy of purposeful growth
Read post ›
Solicitor and former Australian Government Solicitor, Michael Kingston
October 24, 2023
Five minutes with former FLS volunteer, Michael Kingston
Read post ›
June 30, 2023
Reflections on a harm reduction intervention in the Inquest into Veronica Nelson’s passing
Read article ›
Human Rights News
June 19, 2023
Victoria Police breaches human rights and its own policies at cannabis legalisation rally
Read article ›
May 26, 2023
FLS submission on a medically supervised injecting service in the City of Melbourne
Read post ›
March 31, 2023
Q+Law: A new legal service with and for LGBTIQA+ communities
Read article ›
March 10, 2023
FLS joins calls for a Supervised Injecting Service in the CBD
Read article ›
January 24, 2023
Fitzroy Legal Service joins in calls from Aboriginal, legal, and human rights organisations for the urgent reform of Victoria’s bail laws.
Read article ›
October 13, 2022
Vale Uncle Jack
Read article ›
October 22, 2021
Human Rights don’t stop at prison gates. It is time to end routine strip searching of people in prison!
Read post ›
View all news ›