The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) has made a joint submission today relating to the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 (Bill). The submission supports the introduction of laws protecting against discrimination directed at a person based on their religious belief or activity.
However, there is no conscionable reason for denying or delaying the extension of vilification protection for persons on the same grounds.
In NSW, people of Islamic faith have no form of protection against weaponised vilification and disinformation due to a gap in the law – a gap that this Bill does not address.
AMAN is urging the Committee to recommend that the Bill address the vilification gap, as it does the discrimination gap, as a matter of equity and public interest.
Allowing this environment of legal impunity to continue may have profound consequences for the NSW community, as it has been shown that conspiracy theories, portraying Muslims as a subhuman, barbaric existential threat, are designed to create a false sense of crisis and provide a gateway to right wing extremism.
NSW was home to the first white nationalist terrorist, Brenton Tarrant, who will face sentencing on Monday in New Zealand for the murder of fifty-one (51) Muslim men, women and children, and the lifelong injury of many more.
Social cohesion is our greatest strength, and must be defended through equal protection and dignity before the law.