17 May 2023
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel Payne MLC – South-Eastern Metropolitan Region
Today on IDAHOBIT my adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police. Recent attacks on the LGBTIQ+ community from extremist groups, including in my own electorate, where council-endorsed family and community events have been targeted, have shown us that vilification is escalating. It cannot be ignored. Cancelling events for fear of these bigots is the very thing those bigots set out to achieve. It is not the solution. We in the LGBTIQ+ community need to be protected, not pushed out of public life. I acknowledge that the Victorian government has committed to extending anti-vilification laws to protect members of the LGBTIQ+ community, but an 18-month wait for those laws, as foreshadowed by the Attorney-General in this chamber last week, is a long wait in the face of the violence that is escalating in our community right now.
It does not mean that the police are powerless to address the hate speech and bigotry that is unfolding in our community. Under our current and existing laws prosecutions are possible: under section 17 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 for threatening language and behaviour in public; under sections 20 and 21A of the Crimes Act 1958 for threats to kill or inflict injury or for a course of conduct intended to cause apprehension or fear, and under section 195H for affray in the form of threatened violence that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety; and under section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 for online conduct designed to menace, harass or cause offence. Our police should be vigorously policing abhorrent hate speech because it rips at the harmonious, peaceful and respectful fabric of our society. That type of policing should be happening now. The action I seek is that the minister takes all steps possible to ensure that Victoria Police are using the full force of the law currently at their disposal to criminally charge and deter the bigoted behaviour.
Received: 6 July 2023
Hon Anthony Carbines MP
(Minister for Police, Minister for Crime Prevention, Minister for Racing)
It is the role of Victoria Police to serve the Victorian community and uphold the law to promote a safe, secure, and orderly society as outlined in the Victoria Police Act 2013 and reflected in the Victoria Police Code of Conduct. Victoria Police officers rely on a variety of statutes and the common law to fulfil this role. Please be assured that police treat threatening and harmful behaviour that targets a certain group within the community as an extremely serious matter to be investigated.
Victoria Police have been clear that threatening and violent behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated.
Victoria Police is committed to ensuring the LGBTIQ+ community is treated with respect and has appointed a number of LGBTIQ+ Liaison Officers (LLO) across the state. The LLO Mission Statement is to contribute to the creation of mutual trust between police and the community, to ensure that they have increasing confidence in police through the provision of fair and equitable policing service. In addition, Victoria Police has also established an LGBTIQ+ Portfolio Reference Group to keep Victoria Police informed of issues in the community and provide advice on a range of initiatives and responses.
This Government is committed to better protecting Victorians from hatred and vilification. We know that the harm caused by these acts can be profound, affecting people’s physical and psychological wellbeing.
Everyone deserves to feel safe, welcome and included in Victoria.