- New laws have been introduced to Parliament to increase penalties for offences that are motivated by hatred or serious contempt
- The reforms amend the Criminal Code to ban the display of hate symbols
- Criminals who commit crimes motivated by serious hate and prejudice against specified groups will face tougher penalties.
New legislation has been introduced to ban the display of hate symbols, such as those representative of Nazi ideology, and increase penalties for offences that are motivated by hatred or serious contempt and the existing offence of serious vilification.
The Criminal Code (Serious Vilification and Hate Crimes) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 gives effect to four key recommendations made by the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee in January 2022 to strengthen Queensland’s hate crime laws.
A new ‘Prohibited symbols’ offence will be introduced to protect the community from the distress and insecurity associated with the display of hate symbols.
Under the new offence, public display, public distribution, or publication of prohibited symbols in circumstances that might reasonably be expected to cause a member of the public to feel menaced, harassed or offended are prohibited, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
The offence is intended to capture a broad range of circumstances, including the public display of tattoos and the public distribution or publication of prohibited symbols online.
The reforms also amend existing offences to provide for a new circumstance of aggravation for offences, including common assault, going armed so as to cause fear, threatening violence, assault occasioning bodily harm, wilful damage, trespass and public nuisance.
Criminals who commit these offences while motivated, wholly or partly, by hatred or serious contempt based on race, religion, sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity will face increased penalties including longer custodial sentences.
These provisions are intended to give the courts greater ability to treat these offences as more serious and therefore deserving of a more severe punishment.
Quotes attributable to the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk:
“People armed with hate and prejudice and extreme ideologies won’t be tolerated in Queensland.
“Our government promised to review and strengthen serious vilification and hate crime laws and this Bill is delivering on that promise.
“These reforms mean Queensland will have some of the strongest hate crime laws in the country.”
Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman:
“A hate crime or the serious vilification of an individual or group because of their race, religion, sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity is an attack on a human dignity and will not be tolerated
“These reforms send a clear message that criminals who commit serious crimes motivated by serious hate and prejudice will face tougher penalties
“We’re making it illegal for people to publicly display, publish or publicly distribute symbols representative of an ideology of extreme prejudice against a relevant group, because we recognise these symbols erode the safety and security of all Queenslanders.”
Quotes attributable to the CEO of Multicultural Australia Christine Castley:
“We are pleased and relieved to see the introduction of the hate crime and serious vilification legislation into the Queensland Parliament
“The laws will enhance the safety of every person and every community in Queensland, especially for those culturally and linguistically diverse communities who all too often face harassment as they go about their lives in public spaces and places of worship
“Multicultural Australia is proud to have been a part of the Cohesive Communities Coalition, which has advocated for these laws and shared stories from individuals in our diverse communities who, in many cases, had to relive harrowing experiences and trauma from acts of hate that in most cases will be a crime under the new laws
“We will continue to amplify the voices of affected communities and individuals, and work with the Queensland Government and response agencies such as the Queensland Police to improve awareness and reporting of hate crimes.”