AUJS backs ECAJ on Racial Discrimination Act issue

December 5, 2013 by  
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The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) has backed the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in calling on the Federal Government to abandon its plans to repeal or weaken Australia’s race hate laws.

aujsAUJS, the representative body for Jewish students across Australia, has called on Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, to reconsider the government’s legislative agenda to repeal or amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, stressing the need to remain vigilant against racism, intolerance & bigotry.

AUJS Political Affairs Director Dean Sherr said the Union was joining growing opposition to the reforms in light of media reports over the last 12 months of racist sledging on the sporting field and public transport and the proliferation of grossly racist comments on websites and social media platforms.

Dean Sherr

Dean Sherr

“There has never been a more appropriate time to take a strong stance against racial hatred. Racially motivated violence does not happen in a vacuum; racial prejudice begins with words.”

“Along with other minority communities, we are concerned that any weakening of the Racial Discrimination Act by the government will send a dangerous signal that public incitement of racism is acceptable as free speech. Free speech cannot be a shield for hate speech.”

“We applaud every Coalition member of the Federal parliament for signing the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, but weakening protections against racist hate speech can only undermine such a declaration against racism.”

“In many court cases over the last 15 years sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act have struck an effective balance between freedom of expression and freedom from racial vilification. The fact that

the decision in one of those cases attracted controversy does not mean that it was unfair. The alleged unfairness has yet to be demonstrated. Furthermore, one allegedly unfair case in fifteen years of effective operation of these laws cannot provide serious impetus for change. No persuasive case has been made to the Australian people for changing the legislation.”

AUJS calls upon the Government to reconsider its position.

 

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