Protect your freedom of speech and religion. Ask your leaders to change Section 17 of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act.
Tasmania is the only state that provides constitutional recognition of the right to religious freedom. Section 46 of Tasmania’s State Constitution says,
“Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen.”
However, Section 17 of the Anti-Discrimination Act suppresses that freedom. It says,
A person must not engage in any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person on the basis of gender, race , age, sexual orientation, lawful sexual activity, gender identity, intersex variations of sex characteristics, marital status, breastfeeding, parental status, family responsibilities or disability in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the other person would be offended, humiliated, intimidated, insulted or ridiculed.
Now the State election is over and the Liberal Government has a working majority, there is a real prospect that Section 17 of the Anti-Discrimination Act could be amended to remove the reference to “offence” as a basis for making speech illegal.
Here are some important points to be aware of:
Tasmania is the most repressive Australian state in relation to freedom of speech, especially religious speech. Even private conversations that “offend” are illegal under Section 17.
Saying anything which may be interpreted as offending a person because of gender, sexual orientation or other listed attributes is illegal under the Act – but it’s perfectly alright to offend a person because of their religious beliefs.
Under Section 17, Archbishop Porteous, Senator Chandler and others have had to appear before the Anti-Discrimination Commission for innocent statements about the Christian view of marriage and the protection of female athletes.
Section 17 must be amended to ensure that “offence” is not a legal basis to make speech or conduct illegal. Here are the simple – but necessary – changes to the legislation that are required:
- Delete the word “offend”
- Make it clear that the law does not apply to private conversations
- Provide a broad exception for “bona fide religious discussion or speech”
Take action today
Using the form below, please write a message to your House of Assembly and Legislative Council members to ask them to support a change to Section 17 in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act – it will only take a couple of minutes. Some wording has been provided for you but feel free to adjust it as you see fit. Be concise and respectful.
The salutation at the start and your name at the end will both be appended automatically. Please don't add these to the letter below, eg please do not address the email “Dear MP's name”.
When you complete your name and address in the box below, your letter will be directed to your House of Assembly and Legislative Council members.
Thank you for taking action today to protect your freedom of speech and religion.