ACT government to make religious vilification illegal

The ACT government will propose changes to the territory’s Discrimination Act to make religious vilification illegal.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell will introduce a bill in the Legislative Assembly next week in response to the secret campaign by the Concerned Citizens of Canberra against the Gungahlin mosque. The bill will make it unlawful to publicly incite hatred, contempt or ridicule of a person based on their religion.

Mr Corbell said the “ongoing incitement” in relation to the mosque, and the distribution of anti-Islamic pamphlets to Canberra homes, had prompted the government to introduce the legislation in the final sitting week of the assembly.

The ACT Law Reform Advisory Council is currently reviewing the territory’s Discrimination Act, but Mr Corbell said he believed more urgent action was necessary.

“We treat that behaviour very seriously,” he said. “Whilst our preference has been to see that treatment through the review of the Discrimination Act, we’ve decided to bring forward the proposal to make vilification on religious grounds unlawful.”

Canberra Times, 14 August 2012