Strengthen Hate laws in NSW

The NSW Law Reform Commission is reviewing the effectiveness of section 93Z of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in addressing serious racial and religious vilification in NSW. The Commission sought views of Hindu Council of Australia about section 93Z. Hindu Council has been in contact with other faiths and has made a separate representation also. The submissions were concluded on 23 April 2024.

On behalf of the Hindu Council of Australia, Ashutosh Agarwal, the National Legal Counsel made submissions to the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, the Hon Tom Bathurst AC KC, Chairperson of the NSW Law Reform Commission and Kate Eastman AM SC, Commissioner of the NSW Law Reform Commission. 

In summary, the Hindu Council is of the view that scope of s93Z which provides that a person commits a crime if they intentionally or recklessly threaten or incite violence towards another person on the grounds of their race or specific religious belief or affiliation, is very narrow. In its current form, s93Z does not capture conduct that incites or promotes hatred, ridicule or contempt because of a person’s race or religious beliefs or affiliation. This is illustrated by the fact that not a single conviction has been achieved in the last six years since this section was introduced in the Crimes Act.

On the other hand, Western Australia (under chapter XI of the WA Criminal Code) as well as Victoria (under sections 24 & 25 of the Victoria Racial & Religious Tolerance Act 2001) afford better protection to their citizens in this context by making such conduct unlawful. The Hind Council is of the view that the citizens of NSW should have a right to the same protection as WA and Victoria. Hindus in NSW should be able to go about their daily life without any concerns or fear or risk of anybody saying or doing anything that incites or promotes hatred, ridicule or contempt against Hindus because of their race or religious beliefs but is not a criminal act under the provisions of s93Z.

The Hindu Council has strongly advocated for broadening of the scope of s93Z so that simpler forms of harm, such as inciting hate or serious contempt or abuse or ridicule towards Hindus owing to their race or religious beliefs or affiliation is included in s93Z.

Speaking to Ashutosh Agarwal on Tuesday 23 April 2024, Hon Tom Bathurst thanked the Hindu Council of Australia for the detailed submissions made by him on the subject stating, “the Hindu Council’s submissions are very different from the submissions made by everyone else so far but have given a lot to think about”. He assured that the Commission would be very carefully considering the serious concerns raised by the Hindu Council

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