21 March 2023, 12:17
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan)

My question is for the Attorney General Ms Symes, and I acknowledge her response to Dr Ratnam. In a similar light, I would like to
also just talk about how deeply the actions of the far-right and anti-trans activists affected us as a community over the weekend during the rally. No-one should be expected to endure hate speech that is designed to intimidate and humiliate, especially those already vulnerable and marginalised. So my question is, Minister: when will you move to legislate extended anti-vilification protections that you
supported in principle on 2 September 2021 in response to recommendation 1 of the Legal and Social Issues Committee?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services):

I thank Ms Payne for her question and indeed support the remarks that she has made in relation to the impact that actions and words have on people. It is never lost on me when we have debates in this chamber that affect the rights of vulnerable communities, particularly LGBTIQ+ communities. We have had many debates in here where we are championing the rights, but I know that that commentary
in itself is quite harmful. But of course it is important work to advance. It is on the list to do. As you know, we have accepted those recommendations in principle. It was scheduled for work for me for the second half of this year. Obviously we are pulling forward some elements of it. I have got a lot of legal reform that is really important to Victorians that we are working through, but this remains one of
my priorities.

Rachel PAYNE:

I thank the minister for her response. I agree; in principle there has been that commitment made. But can you give us, those in the LGBTI
community, some reassurance that there will also be shield-like law reform protections for us from vilification as made in that recommendation 1?

Jaclyn SYMES:

Yes, indeed. Thank you, Ms Payne. We are looking at extending the list of attributes that are protected under our vilification laws, looking at hate crimes and whether there can be changes there. These are conversations that I have been having for some time, whether it is with representatives of our multicultural communities, members of the LGBTIQ+ community and advocates in this space. There is a lot of interest in it. It is complex to get right. You want to get it right. As we have said, sometimes the conversations can be harmful as well, so let us do it once. It is my commitment to you and to this chamber that we will have more to say in this space.


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