Racial vilification on the NSWJBD plenum agenda

October 7, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton MP will discuss ’Racial vilification’ and the options for legislative reform when she addresses this month’s NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum. 

NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton

NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton

Upton’s address will come about six weeks after the window closed on the possibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions pursuing legal action against Hizb ut-Tahrir Sydney spiritual leader Ismail al-Wahwah.

Preaching in Sydney last year, Wahwah called on Muslims to rid the world of the “hidden evil of the Jews”, accusing them of corrupting the world and describing them as “the most evil creatures of Allah”. Jews should be “thrown back to where they came from”, he said. Despite a finding by the DPP and NSW Police that Wahwah’s speech constituted a breach of the law, both decided against pressing charges.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies – which lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board against Wahwah in March – is working closely with the Attorney General on the need to amend the state’s hate-speech legislation so that incitement of violence against a person or group on the basis of their ethnic identity will be prosecuted in future. No-one has been prosecuted under the law since it was introduced in 1989.

Board of Deputies President Jeremy Spinak and CEO Vic Alhadeff have had a number of meetings with the Attorney-General in recent weeks designed to progress the issue.

“Our understanding is that the State Government is keen to improve the legislative process and is working towards reform,” Alhadeff said. “The Attorney-General has been receptive to our views on this issue and, as always, has been supportive of the community’s concerns. Close consultation and ongoing dialogue with her and her senior staff are continuing, and we look forward to a positive outcome that will benefit not only the Jewish community, but all 200 ethnic communities which comprise the state of New South Wales.”

In an interview with broadcaster Alan Jones on Radio 2GB, Alhadeff said: “If the law cannot deal with such incitement to violence, then it’s broken and needs to be fixed. We are calling for a law that says if you deliberately advocate violence against a person or a group because of their ethnic identity, that is a criminal offence. If a person can get away with such an outrageous speech, as this person has, it puts everyone at risk. It endangers the society we have where people overwhelmingly respect each other.”

The Board of Deputies has engaged in a decade-long campaign to have Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act made effective. Two years ago the State Government held a parliamentary enquiry into Section 20D, taking presentations from a number of communities, including the Board of Deputies. The inquiry made numerous recommendations for reform, but none has been implemented.

Upton is a longstanding friend of the Jewish community, making mention of this fact in her inaugural address to parliament.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum will be held in Darlinghurst on Tuesday 20 October at 7:30pm. Inquiries: 9360 1600.

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