Fiona Patten tabled her Anti-Vilification Bill in 2019, seeking to amend the existing Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 to include a few protected attributes such as gender identity and sexual orientation, while lowering the bar to define vilification.
The bill did not pass the Upper House but went into Committee inquiry. After months-long consultation and hearings, the Committee released its report on March 3.
In the Committee’s recommendation, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, sex characteristics and/or intersex status are adopted.
To add salt to the wound, the Committee recommends to lower the bar to define vilification and incitement from ‘conduct that incites’ to ‘conduct that is likely to incite’.
Like the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020, the Committee has recommended to give the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission the power to oversee these new regulations.
If these recommendations are adopted by the Andrews Government and made into law, the religious freedom and free speech of Victorians will be put at greater risk.
Christians and people of various faiths and cultural communities could be restricted in expressing their beliefs about gender identity and sexual ethics, both verbally and online.
Additional restrictive legislation is also on the horizon, including the Gender Equality Act 2020 and the Victorian LGBTIQ Strategy.
Recently, many ACL supporters have been briefed on the social and political developments in Victoria and how we can make a difference together. Please come to events near you – and bring a friend – to help protect religious freedom and the future of our children.
Let’s continue to “Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12a).