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March 25, 2014

Australian hate speech reform faces backlash

Attorney general criticised for arguing that 'people have the right to be bigots'.
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is seen during a House of Representatives question time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on March 20, 2014. (EPA/DANIEL MUNOZ)

The government of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a wave of criticism over proposed changes to remove hate speech from the country's racial discrimination laws. The reforms, proposed by Attorney General George Brandis, target the Racial Discrimination Act's section 18c, which prohibits behaviour likely "to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people" based on their "race, colour or national or ethnic origin".

Arguing that "people have the right to be bigots", Brandis also said the government's reforms would allow it to better fight the incitement of racial hatred. The comments can be seen in the following video, posted to YouTube by deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

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