fbpx
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What would change under 18C proposal

Reading Time: 2 minutes

What the proposed changes mean

“Offend, insult and humiliate” replaced with “harass”

Currently, it is unlawful for a person to do an act that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people on the grounds of race, colour or national or ethnic origin. If the new law passes as proposed (which is in itself uncertain), it will only become an offence to “harass and intimidate” a person on those grounds. 
18C Propsal.Indian Link
In other words, under the proposed amendment, it will be permissible to offend, humiliate or insult an individual on the basis of race, as long as the conduct does not “harass and intimidate” the individual. At law, for conduct to be “harassment”, it must generally involve a sustained pattern of conduct, rather than one-off incidents. Additionally, the introduction of the “intimidation” concept suggests a need for a fear of physical harm. Together, these changes represent a significant watering down of the protections currently available to victims of racial discrimination, as they impose a much higher threshold upon discriminatory conduct.

The “reasonable person” test

- Advertisement -

Section 18C of the Act currently considers whether conduct directed towards a person would in “all the circumstances” be reasonably likely to offend, insult or humiliate a person or group of people.
Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that the government is proposing the introduction of a “reasonable person” test to determine whether conduct would (under the new laws) harass or intimidate a person on prohibited grounds.
18C Propsal.Indian Link
The effect of a “reasonable person” test is that a person’s individual circumstances would no longer be relevant in considering racial discrimination (as is currently the case). This is counter-intuitive; a racial slur directed towards a person of subcontinental origin has an entirely different effect on that person than if the same slur were to be directed at a person of any other ethnicity. As a simple example, a racial epithet such as “curry muncher” or “white trash” is more likely to offend the person to whom it is directed if that person is of the race that actually underpins the relevant slur.
Instead, under the proposed model, the standard would likely be that of a “reasonable member of the Australian community” – an abstract, and in this case, irrelevant determination that would be up to a judge to consider.  But, importantly, given most complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act are settled in mediation prior to reaching the courts – there is a material risk that amending the provisions as proposed will discourage complainants altogether.

- Advertisement -
Ritam Mitra
Ritam Mitra
Ritam recently discovered that after years of repeatedly losing his off stump, it's more advisable for him to write about cricket than to play it. Ritam was the 2014 Young Journalist of the Year (Premier's Multicultural Media Awards)

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

0
  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

Seniors, adult, match, cricket, sport, outdoors, park, day, ball, holidays,

Have you registered yet for National Backyard Cricket Day?

0
  If you played gully cricket as a child in India, you're probably already into backyard cricket. Well, here's your chance to do a bit of...
indian diaspora

India has world’s largest diaspora: UN

0
  India has the world's largest diaspora with about 18 million people born there now living abroad, according to John Wilmoth, the director of UN's...
netflix film tribhanga

Review: Tribhanga (Netflix)

0
  The great thing about Kajol is she can light up a scene as few stars do, with her zeal to enthral. The flip side...

Tandav on Amazon Prime: REVIEW and backlash

0
  Tandav opens with a raging kisaan andolan in Greater Noida over a government decision to turn farm land into a SEZ for urbanisation. Soon,...
lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh’s rivalry with her overachieving ‘cousin’, Kamala Harris

0
  "Growing up I always got compared to my Indian cousins," shares Lilly Singh, reminding us of those unforgettable sibling rivalries we've all experiences at...