The Australian Christian Lobby has backed calls for the Government to revisit the debate about freedom of speech following last week’s Paris atrocity.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said all public debate should be conducted respectfully but it should not be against the law to ‘insult’ or ‘offend’.
Mr Shelton said ACL supported the cross-party bill before the Senate to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“Senators Leyonhjelm, Smith, Day and Bernardi have struck a reasonable compromise,” Mr Shelton said.
“Inciting hatred or violence would still be an offence but not insulting or offending.
“The current law is very subjective.
“While there is disagreement about whether Charlie Hebdo cartoons would have been illegal or not under the Racial Discrimination Act, the principle of free speech is what is at stake.“While Charlie Hebdo regularly published material that was deeply offensive to Muslims, Christians and Jews, there seems to be overwhelming agreement that this should not be illegal. This principle should be consistent in legislation.
“Free public debate is a better forum than litigation in court for calling out insult or offence,” Mr Shelton said.
State-based racial and religious vilification laws, which have led to unnecessary litigation, such as the farcical ‘two Dannies case’ in Victoria, should also be repealed.