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Labor Party threatens free speech: Written and spoken words can cause actual harm, the guilty must be subject to effective sanctions.

The Australian Labor Party’s consultation draft claims to “distill the policies and enduring values that Labor aspires to implement in government.” According to the document, “all Australians have the right to exercise their freedom of speech” (p.187; 120), but with that freedom comes the responsibility not to “harm” others with your words. “Australia’s anti-vilification laws…


The Australian Labor Party’s consultation draft claims to “distill the policies and enduring values that Labor aspires to implement in government.”

According to the document, “all Australians have the right to exercise their freedom of speech” (p.187; 120), but with that freedom comes the responsibility not to “harm” others with your words.

“Australia’s anti-vilification laws strike an appropriate balance between the right to free speech and protection from the harm of hate speech” (121).

Words, either written or spoken, can cause actual harm, beyond “mere offence,” according to the ALP. Those who abuse the “responsibilities that come with freedom of speech” must be subject to “effective sanctions.”

Homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic harassment by the written or spoken word causes actual harm, not simple mere offence, to people who have suffered discrimination and prejudice, and causes particular harm to young same-sex attracted, or gender-questioning and intersex people, and considers such harmful harassment is an unacceptable abuse of the responsibilities that come from freedom of speech and must be subject to effective sanctions. Labor will consider whether current anti-discrimination law provides such effective sanctions. (page 187, paragraph 122)

Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis rightly points out, the danger is they don’t define what “harassment” is. Would a preacher be found guilty of “harassment” if he preached a biblical view of sexuality and same sex relations? And if the written word can “cause actual harm” could that statement be used to suggest the Bible is “hate speech?”

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