Opinion: Section 18C is too broad and too vague, and should be repealed

September 1, 2016

The authors Dr Augusto Zimmermann, Joshua Forrester and Lorraine Finlay with Murdoch School of Law Dean Professor Jurgen Brohmer (second right) at the launch of their book on 18C

The authors Dr Augusto Zimmermann, Joshua Forrester and Lorraine Finlay with Murdoch School of Law Dean Professor Jurgen Brohmer (second right) at the launch of their book on 18C

The controversy surrounding section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has ramped up again this week with a number of Senators signing a private members bill which seeks to dilute the act.

The disputed section makes unlawful any act reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people because of their race, colour, ethnicity or nationality.

In an article for The Conversation, Murdoch academics Lorraine Finlay and Dr Augusto Zimmermann, and PhD candidate Joshua Forrester, all from the School of Law, argue 18C is not constitutional and infringes the implied freedom of political communication.

They say the language and emotions 18C targets – offence, insult and humiliation – go far beyond what is required in the international treaty most directly supporting the Act. Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is directed against the dissemination of all ideas based on racial hatred – a much stronger word than those used in 18C.

Ms Finlay, Dr Zimmermann and Mr Forrester believe 18C is too broad and should be repealed. Until a more tightly drafted provision is put in its place, it is vulnerable to constitutional challenge, they write.

To read the full article, click here.

Ms Finlay, Dr Zimmermann and Mr Forrester have written a book on 18C entitled No Offence Intended: Why 18C is Wrong. It was published by Connor Court Publishing and can be purchased at their website www.connorcourt.com.

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