Threat to racial discrimination law is a threat to sex discrimination law too

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By Fran Hayes

Recent weeks have seen a fierce community debate over the extent to which certain types of racist behaviour should be prohibited under Australian anti-discrimination laws.

Specifically, the Abbott Government is proposing to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 to remove prohibition of certain negative behaviours targeting people because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act – Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin – currently provides that:

(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all…

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