Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has said his first legislation will be to repeal the part of the Racial Discrimination Act used to pursue News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt in court over comments about light-skinned Aboriginal people.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes speech illegal if it is likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race, nationality or ethnic origin.
In an interview with The Australian, Brandis said repeal of that law would be his first item of legislative business, and predicted the government would be accused of condoning racist behaviour as a result.
“You cannot have a situation in a liberal democracy in which the expression of an opinion is rendered unlawful because somebody else . . . finds it offensive or insulting,” Brandis told The Aus.
In 2011 the Federal Court found Bolt was found to have breached the law over a series of articles in which he claimed some prominent Australians had decided to identify as Aboriginal to get access to grants and awards.
Brandis also signalled a number of other rights initiatives, including the appointment of a “freedom commissioner” at the Human Rights Commission.
“It is a very important part of my agenda to re-centre that debate so that when people talk about rights, they talk about the great liberal democratic rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of worship and freedom of the press.”
There’s more at The Australian.
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