The Victorian Greens introduced their Racial and Religious Tolerance (Anti-Vilification) Amendment Bill 2023 to the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday May 16.
The Greens, however, accused the Victorian Labor government of trying to stifle debate on anti-vilification reform. They believe that the Victorian Labor Government is doing everything to delay overdue anti-vilification reform. This is why the Green Party called the Labor government in Victoria “cowards”.
The bill introduced in Victoria’s lower house of parliament by the Greens would amend the state’s anti-libel laws – which currently only protect Victorians from racial and religious vilification – to include vilification on the basis of sexuality, gender and gender expression.
It would also change laws to make it illegal to defame someone based on their HIV/AIDS status, intersex status or disability.
However, a motion to debate the bill in the lower house was blocked by the government, despite support from the Greens and the opposition.
The prime minister also refused to acknowledge Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson Gabrielle de Vietri and turned his back on Ms de Vietri for the entirety of his speech on the bill.
On the eve of IDAHOBIT, Ms de Vietri, who is bisexual, said it was devastating that the government was trying to delay this much-needed reform and that the time to act was now, not 18 months from now.
She added that until the state’s anti-defamation laws are expanded, LGBTIQA+ communities would continue to face an increase in hate speech, abuse and threats.
While the Greens were unable to debate their bill in the lower house, the party has now tabled their bill in the upper house, where the government does not have a majority and therefore cannot prevent a debate or vote.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson, Gabrielle de Vietri MP:
“We need to reform our anti-vilification laws as a matter of urgency, and the Greens are ready to act now.
“Yet the Victorian Labor Government would rather stifle debate and kick this can down the road.
“The Government has known about the need to expand our anti-vilification laws for years now, but refused to act.
“And now we’re seeing neo-Nazis, the far-right, and even members of our own Parliament feel emboldened to spout anti-LGBTIQA+ hate. It’s pushing our queer community underground again – telling them that they should be scared and hide.
“If equality is ‘non-negotiable’, what is the Government waiting for?
“It’s clear that Labor is playing political games with our queer community. They’re either too cowardly to take action, or delaying this bill because they want their name stamped on it when it’s eventually passed.
“Well Labor needs to get its ego out of the way, stop worrying about getting the credit, and get on with these critical reforms.”