Anti-Discrimination (Homosexual Vilification) Amendment Bill



About this Item
SpeakersKirkby The Hon Elisabeth; Hannaford The Hon John; Gay The Hon Duncan; O'Grady The Hon Paul; Burgmann The Hon Dr Meredith; Ryan The Hon John; Nile Reverend The Hon Fred; Macdonald The Hon Ian; Jones The Hon Richard; Burnswoods The Hon Jan
BusinessBill, Division, First Reading, Second Reading

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (HOMOSEXUAL VILIFICATION) AMENDMENT BILL

Bill received and read a first time.
Second Reading

The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [4.46]: I move:
      That this bill be now read a second time.

I am proud to be sponsoring the Anti-Discrimination (Homosexual Vilification) Amendment Bill in this House on behalf of the honourable member for Bligh, Ms Clover Moore. The bill was introduced by her in another place and passed through that House. It is interesting to read in Hansard the comments of Opposition members who spoke in that debate. Without exception all Opposition members spoke warmly and supportively of the bill. They congratulated the honourable member for Bligh for introducing the bill. It is now on the public record that gay men and lesbians are regularly subjected to violence and vicious abuse simply because of their sexual orientation. This abuse has been occurring for a long time but it has only recently been documented. In the past 14 months 156 reports of assaults on lesbians and gay men have been received by the anti-violence project.

In 1991 police received reports of 136 homosexual assaults, and in the past four years 13 homosexual men have been murdered by gay bashers. This long overdue legislation is essential in the fight against homophobic violence and bigotry. In 1989 both Houses of Parliament passed amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act, which made racial vilification illegal. This bill adapts the racial vilification provisions to homosexual vilification and is in line with recommendations made by the Anti-Discrimination Board report of the inquiry into HIV- and AIDS-related discrimination, the street watch report and the "Off Our Backs" report.

Those who support this bill should send a clear signal that it is as unacceptable for people to be vilified on the grounds of their origins as it is for them to be vilified on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Anti-vilification legislation for gay men and lesbians is necessary in order to secure their right to a peaceful existence free from harassment. This right to freedom from vilification on the grounds of sexual orientation is taken for granted by the majority of the population but for the gay community this is a right that is constantly denied by bigotry and homophobia.

The provisions of the legislation are very simple and unequivocal. The bill defines homosexual vilification as a public act which is designed to incite hatred toward, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or group of persons on the ground of the homosexuality of the person or members of the group. I ask all honourable members to note that the definition is carefully worded so as to refer only to serious abuse in public. The definition draws the distinction between a mere disagreement and the more serious act of vilification. The wording also makes it clear that it is one thing to disagree with homosexuality, to hold the opinion that homosexuality is a sin and to discuss that option and opinion in public, and that it is quite another thing to distribute bumper stickers with the slogan, "Stop AIDS: Shoot poofters".

This bill clearly exempts a number of actions from its provisions. These are fair media reporting of any act of vilification, communication, distribution or dissemination of material in parliamentary, court, or tribunal proceedings or any other government inquiries. All of these actions would be subject to a defence of Australian absolute privilege in proceedings of defamation. There is also the provision that will exempt any public act done reasonably and in good faith for academic, artistic, scientific, research or other purposes in the public interest including discussion or debate about, and expositions of, any act or matter. Fears have been expressed that these problems will stifle the right to free speech. However, these fears were also expressed in relation to the racial vilification legislation. These fears are totally unfounded since there are clear exemptions.

Discussion in good faith and in the public interest is clearly permitted. However, we must remember that the right to freedom of speech is not absolute. We must bear in mind that with every right comes a responsibility not to exercise that right to harm others. I cite a case from the United States of America where the right to free speech is enshrined in the Constitution. In the 1942 judgment in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire the court unanimously held:
      There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libellous, and the insulting or "fighting" words - those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite to immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.

Paragraph 3(a) of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides for restrictions on freedom of expression where they are necessary for the respect of the rights or reputation of others. Article 17 of that covenant also provides that no one shall be subjected to undue attacks on his
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reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such attacks. The Hon. Kerry Chikarovski was concerned that religious discussion would not be permitted under this bill. This is not true. Proposed section 49ZT(2)(c) provides for a public act, done reasonably and in good faith in the public interest, including discussion or debate about and expositions of any act or matter. Those who are not satisfied that religious discussion is permitted by this provision in the bill must believe that religious discussion is not done in good faith or in the public interest. To hold such an opinion would be ridiculous because it is well accepted that religious discussion is in the public interest.

Similarly, in another place the honourable member for Monaro on page 15 of Hansard of 29th April argued that the bill would curb his right to express a view and campaign in support of that view, which is fundamental to democracy. I ask all honourable members what sort of campaign has the honourable member for Monaro in mind. If the honourable member does not wish to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or groups of persons on the ground of the homosexuality of the person or members of the group, he has nothing to fear. This bill will apply only to actions that go beyond expression of disagreement in good faith and in the public interest. The complaints process outlined in the bill places an emphasis on conciliation. A complaint may be lodged with the Anti-Discrimination Board by an individual or a representative body. The provision for the complaint to be made by a representative body is significant in that it will allow complaints to be made by community organisations on behalf of those who lack the confidence or ability to make a complaint. This does not provide for class actions and no damages are payable to these organisations.

Once a complaint is lodged it must then be investigated by the Anti-Discrimination Board. An attempt is made to first solve the problem through a process of conciliation. The intention of this provision is to educate and to help change attitudes rather than merely condemn. The complainant may ask that the matter be referred to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal, which may order that an apology or retraction, or both, be made. The Equal Opportunity Tribunal may also order damages of no more than $40,000. If the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board considers that an offence of serious vilification has been committed, the complaint must be referred to the Attorney General. The Attorney General may approve prosecution by the courts. This procedure has been adopted to make a distinction between the function of conciliation by the Anti-Discrimination Board and the function of prosecution in the courts. If the Attorney General allows prosecution, an offender may face a penalty of six months' imprisonment or a $1,000 fine and corporations may face a fine of up to $10,000.

The link between vilification and violence has been established for a long time. The nexus between racist propaganda and institutionalised murder and violence was clearly demonstrated in Nazi Germany. Because people were encouraged to vilify Jews, the rest of the community began to believe that people of the Jewish faith were legitimate targets for harassment and violence. In its report on racial violence the Anti-Discrimination Board stated:
      Incitement to racial hostility is a significant element in creating a climate conducive to racist harassment, intimidation and violence. Legislating against incitement and vilification is an important way of addressing the problem directly and provides a strong statement from national leaders that racist violence and behaviour will not be tolerated in Australian society.

These principles equally apply to homosexual vilification. Opponents of this legislation argue that it is not possible to legislate community attitudes. The bill is not about thought control; it is about curbing the incitement to violence and vilification on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation. Penalties are provided. The bill makes it clear that homosexual vilification and the violence it engenders are totally and absolutely unacceptable.

It has also been argued that this bill illustrates favouritism towards gay men and lesbians by singling them out and giving them special protection. However, this argument blatantly ignores the fact that gay men and lesbians are specifically singled out for violence, solely because of their sexual orientation, and, because of that, they are harassed. We make distinctions between many criminal offences. We have specific categories of assault, such as aggravated assault or sexual assault. Specific provisions assist in directing public attention to those issues. As a society it is time we directed our attention to the problem of homosexual vilification and violence. It is my understanding that the Government supports the principles enshrined in the bill but, as was made clear yesterday by the Leader of the House, it does not wish to support the bill in its present form because it wants to include provisions for vilification on other grounds.

Of course, I will support those provisions when they are put forward by the Government, as I am informed they will be during the budget session. However, we have been waiting a very long time for the Government's promised homosexual vilification laws - since last December. The Government promised that the legislation would be introduced in May. It promised also that the legislation would be passed before the budget session. Well, it is now May and the Government's version of the bill has yet to be tabled. That is why I believed it was necessary for the House to proceed with the bill. I cannot believe that there are any provisions in this bill that would not be in the Government's version.

If the Government wishes to make further amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act in line with the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board on HIV-related discrimination later this year, there is no barrier; the Government can do that. When it does so, it will be supported by the Australian Democrats. This legislation is overdue. The longer we wait, the longer homosexual vilification and the violence it
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breeds are permitted to occur, and the worse the situation will get. I believe also that it would be appropriate for the Government to show its support for anti-discrimination principles by ensuring that the Anti-Discrimination Board has sufficient funding to carry out its functions under legislation.

In conclusion, I point out that this bill will not stop people talking about homosexuality. It will not stop people being able to say that they disagree with and disapprove of homosexual lifestyles. It certainly will not stop people stating that they believe that homosexuality is a sin, and it will not stop them from quoting from the Old Testament. It will not stop Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile and members of his constituency from following their religious beliefs and making whatever statements they want, quoting from the Bible and stating that it is their belief that homosexuality is a sin. I do not believe that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile has any intention to incite groups of people to violence, nor do I believe that he will stop quoting from the Bible, making speeches and giving sermons, pushing forward his moral views.

The honourable member has every right to do that and I would uphold that right. I believe that it is totally and absolutely wrong, as we enter the last decade of the twentieth century, that people who have a different sexual orientation - the gays and lesbians of our community - cannot walk the streets of Sydney without doing so in fear. The figures provided by the police support this contention and I am sure that when the Hon. P. F. O'Grady speaks in this debate he will be able to give more examples than I can. What is happening now is a disgrace in a civilised community. We have to do something to stop it.

The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD (Attorney General, Minister for Industrial Relations, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [5.5]: The Government's position on this legislation and the principles behind it have been well enunciated by me on a number of occasions. It is appropriate that I take this opportunity to outline the Government's position on anti-discrimination issues. The Government has a proud human rights record and has maintained its human rights agenda. In April 1992 the Anti-Discrimination Board brought down a report entitled, "Discrimination - The Other Epidemic". Soon after that report was brought down it was welcomed by the then Premier, the Hon. Nick Greiner. I came into this portfolio in July last year and soon after that I examined the report and its recommendations. I took the steps that had been recommended by Mr Greiner of ensuring that the report's recommendations were implemented.

One of the approaches recommended by the former Premier was to establish a committee to make certain that all the recommendations, or as many as were capable of appropriate implementation, were pursued and implemented by the Government. On 28th August, 1992, only a matter of weeks after I became the Minister responsible, I announced the establishment of a review and implementation committee, chaired by former Senator Chris Puplick. I appointed the honourable member for Bligh, Clover Moore, to that committee, because of her constituency and so that she would be aware of the Government's commitment to the implementation of the report's recommendations. The terms of reference of the committee were:
      To advise and report to the New South Wales Attorney General in relation to:
          (i) the development of a co-ordinated Government strategy to implement the recommendations contained in the Anti-Discrimination Board's report of the Inquiry into HIV and AIDS related discrimination; and
          (ii) the implementation of the strategy adopted by the Government and its agencies.
      In monitoring and evaluating implementation of the Government's strategy, the Committee will - where appropriate - provide general advice and assistance to government agencies.

The committee has been working diligently since that time. It met on 10th September, 1992, when I outlined my aspirations to committee members. I understand that Clover Moore has attended most committee meetings and is well aware of the draft final report that is being prepared. The committee was in a position to prepare that report early this year which states that the Government is well advanced in completing the implementation of 72 of the 74 recommendations that it was willing to adopt. I was therefore somewhat bemused to hear her say in the other place, referring to this orange coloured report, that her legislation was implementing that report. I will speak about that in some detail later. She was well aware that this Government was pursuing the implementation of that report, and doing so diligently.

On 28th November, 1992, I attended a rally and delivered a prepared speech, details of which I reiterated on 8th May, 1993, when I announced the Government's comprehensive package of legislation to implement the recommendations in the report. It is appropriate that I put on the parliamentary record what I, the State Attorney General, responsible for discrimination matters, said at the rally outside Sydney Town Hall:
      All I want for Christmas is for people with HIV-AIDS not to be discriminated against.
      I want them to live within our community with dignity and to be accorded the basic human rights to which we are all entitled.
      I want clear and certain means of protection to be in place to protect people with HIV-AIDS from discrimination.
      I want the Government as a whole to implement the recommendations of the Anti- Discrimination Board's report on HIV-AIDS related discrimination, wherever possible.

I also said:
      I want a package of legislation designed to combat HIV-AIDS related discrimination and homosexual vilification to go before State Parliament in the new year . . .
      I want to ensure that people with HIV-AIDS who experience discrimination and homosexuals subjected to vilification will have a ground of complaint to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

The honourable member for Bligh was at the rally where I expressed the wishes of the Government, and
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she heard what I intended to do. On 11th March, 1993, knowing the Government was pursuing a most detailed program of addressing human rights needs, the honourable member for Bligh addressed this piecemeal bill. On 29th April she brought that bill on for debate, and I will make further comment about it. This morning, my commitment in pursuing a comprehensive human rights package manifested itself in my giving notice to this House that I would introduce a bill to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act. The bill will not only address the problems of homosexual vilification but also deal with other important recommendations contained in the Anti-Discrimination Board's report entitled, "Discrimination - The Other Epidemic", released in April 1982.

In particular, it will deal with discrimination and vilification affecting people with the HIV virus and AIDS. However, as I said, on 11th March the honourable member for Bligh proudly rose in another place to introduce a bill which she claimed was intended to implement one of the central recommendations of the Anti-Discrimination Board's report. Shortly after the honourable member for Bligh introduced her bill, I met her and informed her that the Government was preparing its own bill to deal with vilification, as well as many other matters raised in the Anti-Discrimination Board's report. On that basis the honourable member for Bligh agreed that she would defer debate of her bill pending introduction of the Government's bill.

On 8th May I announced that the Government would introduce a comprehensive package of amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act to deal with HIV-AIDS vilification and various other matters. Nevertheless, the honourable member for Bligh proceeded with her bill, contrary to her agreement with me, which is not surprising in view of the obvious political agenda motivating the honourable member. It is a one-issue bill, introduced for pure political advantage. Regrettably, the honourable member for Bligh's actions politicised the issue in a way which would otherwise have been unnecessary, because I intended to deal with a comprehensive program of human rights issues.

The bill addresses one part of only one of 74 recommendations contained in the Anti-Discrimination Board's report. It is an unacceptable piece of legislation because it arrogantly ignores all other important amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act recommended by the board. The title of the bill indicates it is a single-issue bill, but the matters addressed in the Anti-Discrimination Board's report could never be described as a single issue, which is why some Government members voted against the honourable member for Bligh's bill in another place and why, tonight, the Government will comprehensively oppose the bill. When the honourable member for Bligh debated her bill in another place she took great delight in waving in the air the board's report. I also have a copy of that report, and I should like to draw the attention of the House to some of its important parts. The honourable member for Bligh had to read no further than page 3 under the heading, "Major Conclusions" to find out that:
      On the basis of the evidence it has received and the research it has undertaken, the inquiry concludes that HIV and AIDS related discrimination is pervasive and extensive. HIV and AIDS related discrimination undermines the national HIV-AIDS strategy and hinders the community's efforts to effectively and efficiently minimise the transmission of HIV. This also causes considerable economic cost to the community, producing both individual distress and social disruption, both of which are unnecessary and avoidable. There are positive strategies which can be implemented to minimise the extent and effects of such discrimination, and these form the basis of the recommendations of this report.

The quotation is important because it identifies that the discrimination legislative package will also contribute to health measures this Government and preceding governments have sought to diligently pursue to minimise the impact of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. To classify these efforts in almost a pure monologue is to miss the important health regulations that come out of this package, health implications that are not addressed by the honourable member for Bligh's bill. For the past month honourable members have heard her complain repeatedly about the Government's delay in introducing the legislation which I have outlined in response to this report, and which addresses other problems requiring legislation in the anti-discrimination area.

I have informed the House of the extent to which the honourable member for Bligh has been consulted and involved in the development of the Government's program - she has been part of the development of the Government's program. For her now to behave in the way she has is unbecoming, and I do not put it any higher than that, but others might say I am generous in so doing. Her cries were repeated loudly yesterday and loudly today. It is outrageous for the honourable member for Bligh and members of this Chamber - if they wish to do so, and some did this morning in interjections - to criticise the Government for delays in introducing its own legislation, when the legislation before the House was rushed in and is fundamentally deficient.

The Hon. M. R. Egan: Why have we not seen the Government's legislation? We have not seen it. Where is the Government's bill?

The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: Apart from the bleatings that have been heard in this House, I challenge the Leader of the Opposition -

The Hon. M. R. Egan: Where is the Government's bill?

The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I challenge him when he makes a contribution to this debate to refer to one occasion when he has opened his mouth in support of any of the human rights issues with which we are now dealing and we will see how he handles it.

The Hon. M. R. Egan: What about the
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legislation I introduced in the lower House in 1982? The Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations was not even here then. Go back and have a look at my bill.

The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: The bill introduced by the honourable member for Bligh purports to implement the recommendations of the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board, yet it misses the central conclusions outlined on page 3. I have already pointed out to honourable members that the inquiry concluded that HIV related and AIDS related discrimination is pervasive. I hope I do not have to point out to honourable members that the bill of the honourable member for Bligh does not even mention the issue of HIV and AIDS related discrimination. I regard that as an outrageous act of hypocrisy. The honourable member for Bligh introduced her bill on the basis that it implements important recommendations contained in the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board into HIV and AIDS related discrimination. She has blown her own trumpet and heralded her own bill with great fanfare. However, the bill completely misses the point. Recommendation 7 on page 15 of the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board reads as follows:
      An amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Act should be introduced by the New South Wales Government to make unlawful vilification on the ground of homosexuality or assumed homosexuality and on the ground of HIV infection or presumed infection in terms similar to those currently applying on the ground of race.

I am sure I do not need to point out to honourable members in this Chamber that there are two limbs to this central recommendation in the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board that relate to homosexuality and HIV infection, or presumed infection. The bill of the honourable member for Bligh deals with only one of these. The bill represents nothing more than a rushed attempt by the honourable member for Bligh to overshadow comprehensive initiatives the Government is taking in this area. The bill of the honourable member for Bligh can be described as nothing other than half-baked. It has tackled only one element of the recommendations of the Anti-Discrimination Board. In fact, the honourable member for Bligh did not even have to read the report to find out what it was about. She had to look no further than the bright orange cover of the report, which has as its title "Discrimination - The Other Epidemic".

The report of the Anti-Discrimination Board is a report of an inquiry into HIV and AIDS related discrimination. The honourable member for Bligh, in introducing this bill, claimed that it implements the report and that the Government failed to do so. Yet, embarrassingly, she failed to deal with the issues and recommendations raised by the Anti-Discrimination Board in a thoughtful or meaningful way. It is nothing more than blatant politicking on her part. Though the Government may have taken a little longer than the honourable member for Bligh to bring forward its own legislation, I guarantee that the Government's legislation is comprehensive; it deals with many issues. It is not a one-issue example of political opportunism, as is this bill. It is a well thought through and considered bill and it addresses a range of issues that require attention. Today I received the first draft of that bill.

Honourable members would be aware that this morning I gave notice of my intention to bring forward the Government's bill, which will be available for public comment and debate during the forthcoming recess. The Government will then proceed to have its legislation debated in a sensible and considered way during the budget session. I am pleased to have been able to participate in the development of that legislation. I look forward to the opportunity of introducing the bill. It disturbs me that this subject has become such a political issue and that we are debating an ill thought out bill that ignores such important issues. The bill of the honourable member for Bligh simply does not go far enough. It does not address the issue of vilification of persons who are HIV positive but not homosexual. It could be described as the Eve Van Grafhorst amendment. This will be a ground of complaint under the Government's foreshadowed bill.

Under the Government's legislation HIV related vilification, as well as homosexual vilification, will be an offence. This is in line with the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board, which recommended that both homosexual and HIV related vilification should be addressed by legislation. The bill of the honourable member for Bligh is flawed as it fails to properly implement these recommendations of the Anti-Discrimination Board. It is also inadequate in that it does not apply to vilification of persons who are wrongly perceived to be homosexual or HIV positive. This was another recommendation of the board. The Government's proposals will cover vilification based on incorrect perceptions of the sexual preference or HIV status of an individual or a group. This approach accords with the recommendations in the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board.

I refer honourable members also to recommendation 68 of the report, which recommends 16 amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act. The bill of the honourable member for Bligh fails to address practically all those recommendations. Either the honourable member for Bligh disagrees with them and has decided not to include them in her bill, or she has failed to read as far as page 98 of the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board. This illustrates how poorly thought out the bill of the honourable member for Bligh is. For that reason the Government is forced to oppose the honourable member's bill in favour of its own comprehensive package of legislation. I do not think any honourable member would suggest that there is any merit in a piecemeal approach to the problems identified in the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board. Nor do I think any honourable member would support a bill that fails to comprehensively address human rights issues so obviously requiring legislative action.

The bill of the honourable member for Bligh not only fails to address all the issues it should; it also
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unhelpfully confuses anti-discrimination legislation in this State. This confusion is unnecessary when the Government has outlined its own proposal in detail and has announced its intention to proceed with the legislation. Returning for a moment to recommendation 68 of the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board, I draw the attention of honourable members to some of the elements of that recommendation. The Anti-Discrimination Board has recommended that the Anti-Discrimination Act be amended to clarify the definition of impairment to cover asymptomatic HIV infection, as well as to amend the definition of impairment to cover assumed or imputed impairment and both past and present impairment. The board also recommends that the Act should cover discrimination on the ground of a relationship or association with a person, including a business or professional association.

All these recommendations are vitally important if this Parliament is genuine about assisting those people in our community suffering from HIV and AIDS related discrimination. Honourable members would be aware that the effects of the spread of HIV and AIDS have been devastating and felt by a wide range of people in our community. The impacts have by no means been limited to the homosexual community. However, I do not want to suggest for one moment that the most far-reaching impact and effects have not been felt within that community. The Government's legislation will deal with these issues as they affect the entire community. The bill of the honourable member for Bligh fails to do that. The Anti-Discrimination Board, in its introduction to its report, stated:
      AIDS is not simply a medical condition, it also has substantial personal and social impact. Its devastating effects are not only seen in those infected with the virus, but also more broadly in the community at large.
      One of the most devastating impacts is HIV and AIDS related prejudice, and the discrimination which flows from that prejudice.

The report goes on to state:
      Australia has a proud reputation as a nation in which all people receive a fair go. However, the impact of HIV and AIDS has severely challenged that tradition. Many people in our community do not receive a fair go. They have been subjected to prejudice, discrimination, vilification and even violence because they are infected with HIV, or because it is assumed they are infected. Some of them have been forced out of employment and accommodation; some have been denied basic health care. Their rights to privacy and confidentiality have been almost routinely violated. They have been denied basic human rights, and they have been subjected to physical violence.

Further on the report states:
      The very real economic cost to the community is enormous. Those who could not continue in employment may find themselves forced on to social security. Those who could maintain private accommodation may find themselves forced into public housing.
      Those who might have received minimal early medical intervention may find themselves precluded from effective health care until they require hospitalisation.
      Therefore an effective response to HIV and AIDS-related discrimination is not just about a fair go for the victims of discrimination; it is about a fair go for the whole community. The community response must be to fight the virus, not those infected with it.

I wholeheartedly endorse those sentiments, which have been outlined by the Anti-Discrimination Board in its report. These are the issues which must be addressed, the issue of giving those people who are suffering the impacts of HIV and AIDS a fair go, and in turn giving the whole community a fair go. I think that the honourable member for Bligh has lost sight of these objectives, because although her bill addresses part of the problem it fails to address the fundamental issue which has been raised by the Anti-Discrimination Board in its report and which requires well thought out and comprehensive action.

It is not good enough, in fact it is unacceptable, for the honourable member for Bligh to simply pick out of the 74 recommendations one part of one recommendation which suits her immediate political agenda. Such behaviour is unconstructive and even unhelpful. It totally politicises a problem which should not be politicised and in respect of which this legislation should be part of a comprehensive community education program. That is what the debate on this legislation should be about. It should be leading to a constructive contribution towards educating the community out of a prejudice which cannot be sustained in this community.

The Anti-Discrimination Board report contains 74 recommendations relating to various Government and community organisations involved in the field of HIV-AIDS. The recommendations address a considerable range of issues from creation of an offence of serious vilification on the grounds of homosexuality or HIV infection to the distribution of workplace guidelines relating to HIV-AIDS discrimination. The Government's response to the report has been that only two of the recommendations are not supported and that a number of the recommendations have already been implemented. Are we to assume that the honourable member for Bligh supports only one part of one of the 74 recommendations? In order to ensure that the Government's initial response was carried into action, I established a ministerial committee on HIV-AIDS discrimination to report to me on progress being made in the implementation of the board's recommendations. That report is due to me by the end of this month and will be made public by me.

The committee was given wide terms of reference to ensure that it has the power to provide general advice and assistance to government agencies in the implementation of the recommendations. There is no doubt that my release of that report, together with the release of the Government's legislation, would be a significant first step towards increasing that community debate and the education process which is now being put off the rails by this bill. In its sessions throughout this year the committee has systematically worked its way through the report by interviewing senior officers from all relevant government and non-government agencies to determine what action has been taken, and the level of
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commitment to the implementation of the report's recommendations. On 8th May the committee convened a forum which provided a unique opportunity for those present to contribute to the committee's inquiries before the preparation of its final report. I attended and addressed that forum and I look forward to receiving the committee's final report.

This illustrates the level of commitment which I, as Attorney General, and which this, the Fahey Government, has, as a whole, to addressing the serious issues related to HIV and AIDS related discrimination. I believe that the Government's legislation will demonstrate the level of commitment which the Government has toward tackling these difficult problems in a meaningful way. In the face of comprehensive legislation to be introduced by me to deal with the many and complex problems concerning HIV and AIDS related discrimination, I am loath to support the bill which I regard with contempt because of its blatant political opportunism. I wish to address that issue before I make my final comment. The honourable member for Bligh was given the opportunity to adjourn, and have adjourned, this debate. I took the view that the debate should not occur because there should be a comprehensive debate on all issues relating to human rights arising out of the Anti-Discrimination Board report.

I believed that it was divisive to have this debate and I would have preferred that this debate not occur and for this bill to be left on the table of this Chamber so that it could be debated with everything else arising from the report. I indicated to the honourable member for Bligh that if the debate took place and there was going to be a division in relation to the bill, the Government would oppose it. It shows the real level of commitment by the honourable member for Bligh to all of these issues that the opportunity to adjourn the debate has not been acceded to by her. In anticipation of the Government's comprehensive package of reforms in this area, the Government will vote against the bill. I urge other honourable members in this House to do likewise. To defeat the bill will enable subsequent debate on a package of human rights issues, in a consultative and educative way. The only way to overcome the prejudice that exists in these areas is by way of education. The legislative package to be introduced by the Government is a lever to achieve such education. Unfortunately, this bill misses that comprehensive opportunity. The Government is not prepared to do likewise and intends to ensure to the best of its ability that this bill is not carried.

The Hon. D. J. GAY [5.36]: I support the Leader of the Government in the comments he has made in opposing the Anti-Discrimination (Homosexual Vilification) Amendment Bill. He summed it up in the last part. It is about education. I have some concerns about the ability to change people's minds through legislation. I share concern at what is quite clearly abhorrent behaviour in the violence towards homosexuals, but I do not necessarily believe that legislation is the only way to stop this. At the moment there is power under the Crimes Act to do so.

It has been stated on numerous occasions by the Hon. P. F. O'Grady that the police are definitely lacking in their ability to stop this violence. There needs to be a greater determination in stopping violence against homosexuals but I do not believe it can be done through legislation. These concerns need to be addressed when the community considers the Government's proposed plan. I applaud the Minister for putting forward a more comprehensive document to be put on display for the community to see where problems may exist. One of the obvious problems occurs when speech about one group is limited, perhaps inadvertently taking away the rights of others. Our society is a Judaeo-Christian society. I wonder whether this bill and others may inadvertently be in conflict with the dogma of the mainstream churches.

The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: They do not believe in murder.

The Hon. D. J. GAY: No one believes in murder. Let us not trivialise the debate. You should not be stupid. Wake up to yourself; I am being completely serious in this debate and you are throwing out trivial, stupid comments.

The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: The Christian church -

The PRESIDENT: Order!

The Hon. D. J. GAY: Much of the dogma of the mainstream Christian church may be threatened by parts of the legislation. It is only fair that the legislation be put on display so that the churches can comment on it and determine whether there are conflicts that might be resolved. This legislation has a worthwhile aim. However, the community must be on side and not divided in the initial stages. The explanatory note says:
      The Bill:
          makes it unlawful for a person to vilify another person or group of persons on the ground of their homosexuality and, consequently, enables a complaint to be made under the Act concerning the vilification of homosexual persons

The homosexual lobby group is well organised: it has had to be. Circumstances have forced it into that. I do not deny anyone the right to become organised. Members of the homosexual and lesbian community are an articulate group and in most instances I regard what they do as a lobby group in speaking for homosexual people as being correct. I served as a member of the Standing Committee on Social Issues which dealt with medically acquired HIV issues. One of the matters of concern early in the deliberations of the committee was that people acquired HIV through blood transfusions at the blood bank and though concerns had been raised in English and American medical journals, they had not been followed up in Australia. Admittedly there was a time lag in this country, part of which could not be explained. The problem was picked up fairly early in the piece and new guidelines were published to prevent homosexual males and intravenous drug users from giving blood.
Page 2575
Initially that decision was challenged on the ground of discrimination - not through the courts but in public.

The gay lobby in the early days put pressure on the blood bank to change its decision. I do not suggest it was a deliberate plot but it was as a result of genuine concern among the gay movement that the action was discriminatory. By compelling the blood bank to bow to that pressure, inadvertently the gay lobby put a large number of people in New South Wales at risk and some ultimately acquired HIV through transfusions. That was one of the inadvertent consequences of attempts to legislate to change people's minds. It would be better if the approach were to educate people and tighten existing laws. We should not be responsible for introducing thought police to this country. I put on record my concerns about this legislation and the legislation that the Government has put forward. In expressing my concerns I should say that I support the thrust of the Government's legislation which should be put before the community so that public consultation can occur. If my concerns and the concerns of others are unfounded, that will be demonstrated. The aim is not to split the community but to bring it together in an effort to stop unwarranted violence.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY [5.45]: I support the proposed legislation. No one can be particularly pleased at the necessity for this legislation, but the reality is that it is necessary. One cannot escape the fact that violence occurs often, and it occurs in a physical and verbal fashion. That violence has terrible consequences for individuals. This Parliament must show leadership by ensuring that the vilification of gay and lesbian people in this State is put to bed. Those who oppose the legislation paint a picture that once legislation of this type is enacted the thought police will get on their motorcycles and go out into the community to ensure that every word that is spoken has the t's crossed and i's dotted. That is the preposterous suggestion advanced by people such as Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile and the honourable member for Monaro, Peter Cochran. They argue that the thought police at the Anti-Discrimination Board are hovering and waiting to get on their motorcycles so that they can charge off to ensure that the law is not breached.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: It has happened already.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: That is absolute rubbish. The Anti-Discrimination Act has a number of provisions, including section 56 which relates to religious bodies and is particularly appropriate in this debate. The Act contains no provisions for a thought police mentality. Section 89C sets out the way in which the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board should resolve these issues. When the president investigates a complaint he must endeavour to resolve it by conciliation. The Hon. D. J. Gay spoke about not dividing the community and of educating the community. This legislation per se will not change the views of anyone in the community. It will provide an opportunity for self-examination by the community and for people to consider the views that are promoted by some sections of the community. In the lower House the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, Stephen O'Doherty, made comments that were dishonest. He said:
      . . . the most fundamental teaching is that homosexual acts are quite contrary to the way God wants people to behave.

Where in the legislation does it provide that such a statement could be regarded as an act of vilification in respect of which action could be taken? It does not. The honourable member continued:
      Society is moving to the stage where it promotes one type of sexuality in favour of another.

The bill does not promote homosexuality. The legislation deals with the issue of vilification and the way it occurs in our society. The fact is that people are attacked; they are bashed; they are killed, because they are gay or lesbian, or because they are perceived to be gay or lesbian.

Many people have been bashed in the New South Wales countryside merely because they were perceived as gay or lesbian. This bill will cover those people, just as it will cover gay and lesbian people who are vilified. The bill is a straight lift from the Anti-Discrimination (Racial Vilification) Act which was passed by this Parliament in 1988, if my memory serves me correctly. That Act sought to address a problem within the community, that people were vilified on the basis of their race. There has been some inquiry about the effectiveness of the Anti-Discrimination (Racial Vilification) Act and parliamentarians such as the member for Monaro, Peter Cochran, would argue that the Act has been unsuccessful because it has not achieved a vast number of convictions. But he misses the point. The process of this bill is to seek to conciliate. It is not to put people in gaol - that is the Michael Yabsley approach. You let something happen, you lock them up and then you throw away the key. That is the Yabsley approach.

The Hon. E. P. Pickering: It is a bit simplistic.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: It was a good television line, though. This bill does not seek to throw people in gaol and to throw away the key. It seeks to put in place a process which sets about the education of individuals who vilify other individuals within our society.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: Imprisonment for six months? Don't pretend that is not in the bill.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: Another thing you need to include when you say that is that the Attorney General is the man who has to recommend charges being laid. Do you think that he, as the first law officer of this State, on his own initiative is going to approve of someone being prosecuted within the definition of this bill?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann could be the next Attorney
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General.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: She may well be - or Peter Cochran may be the next Attorney General. As the first Crown law officer of this State the Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann would be required to accept the advice of the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board and other officers of the Attorney General's Department before determining whether such an act should occur. You know as well as I that the Attorney General is not going to willy-nilly seek to prosecute people for some minor offence. Rather, this bill is viewed as a process of education and debate within the community. Even you, when you put your motions on the notice paper about the mardi gras, include words such as violence. We are concerned about violence. You have had to modify your behaviour because of the outrageous remarks which you have made in this Chamber and outside in the streets. You are the people who have sought to incite violence towards and hatred of other members of the community, particularly gay and lesbian members of the community.

The Hon. Elaine Nile: You are like Ms Moore. She made accusations but could not prove it on the radio.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I have seen your behaviour in the streets of Sydney. I have seen rallies and the way in which your heavies, your thugs have thumped and bruised and battered members of the gay and lesbian community. The Kings Cross rally was a classic example of that. Of course, you had a thumper in the police station too, a thumper who ensured that people were bashed. But, of course, that is the sort of people you are. That is the sort of people whom you seek to ensure are on the rise in this community. Let me assure you that ultimately this Parliament will deal with this issue and ultimately this Parliament will see you two individuals in the minority. You will be sitting on this side of the Chamber while everyone is sitting on the Government side. Every member in this Chamber, bar you two, is actually showing some leadership in seeking an educational method to achieve a better community. This legislation is not about promoting homosexuality; it is about dealing with hatred and violence against people in our community. It is a process that will ensure that the community deals with the many homophobic characteristics it has.

The Hon. Elaine Nile: Define homophobic. Anyone who disagrees with your lifestyle is homophobic.

The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I will explain it in this way. Joe Jackson, who is a song writer, once said in a lyric in a song, "Don't call me a faggot unless you are my friend" and I think that is a pretty good yardstick to go by. I support the bill. It is part of an educational process which should be and will be passed by this Parliament. The Parliament should have the guts to take some leadership on this issue about violence. Violence is a fundamental issue which we must attack in our society not just against gay and lesbian people but against women and people of non-English speaking backgrounds. I support the legislation.

The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN [5.56]: This bill is in the same vein as the racial vilification provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act. At the time when those racial vilification provisions were included in the Act the level of violence against people of non-Anglo Celtic backgrounds, incited by groups such as National Action, made the racial vilification provisions necessary. People of Asian backgrounds were being bashed in the streets of Sydney. The level of violence against homosexuals has now reached similar proportions. This issue must be addressed now, not in five, six or seven months' time.

In my submission to the review of the racial vilification provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act more than a year ago I argued for an amendment along the lines of this bill. I argued that in Australian society two groups of people are singled out for harassment and violence because of who they are: non-Anglo Celtic Australians, and homosexuals. Of course, other classes of people, such as women, suffer violence, but this is not brought about or reinforced by vilification or incitement. Women suffer violence as a result of who they are but there are not particular groups in society advocating violence against women; there are not groups going around saying, "Punch a woman today". Particularly in our schools groups are saying, "Go out and punch a faggot today".

I oppose those groups in our society who are beginning to advocate that similar provisions to these, but concerning women, should be placed in the Anti-Discrimination Act. No group is saying that women are undertaking a lifestyle that is abhorrent and that they should be punished for it. Unhappily some groups advocate violence against ethnic minorities and homosexuals. The vilification of homosexuals has reached such a level that schoolchildren commit murders egged on by statements and literature that will become illegal if this bill becomes law. I am quite serious when I say that this bill is about the prevention of murder. Murder is occurring in our streets and is being carried out by schoolchildren because of the homophobia spreading through our schools. The very thing which brought about the introduction of the racial vilification provisions - violence against ethnic minorities - is once again occurring, but with respect to homosexuals. This violence is not just against male homosexuals. A report of the Sydney Morning Herald of 21st September, 1992, stated:
      Lesbians are being viciously assaulted because of their perceived sexuality and not solely because of their gender, according to a report into the nature of attacks on gay women.
      The report, Off Our Backs, found that the lesbians who participated in the study had been the object of "hate crimes" and that onlookers and the police were reluctant to help even when the women were beaten up so badly that they needed medical attention.

The article states, "The report will be launched by the
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NSW Minister for Police, Mr Ted Pickering, today". The Hon. E. P. Pickering found that report to be of value. It is quite clear that violence is occurring against lesbian women as well as homosexual men. The bill does not single out homosexuals for special favoured treatment under the law. It is because they are singled out by certain groups and individuals for harassment and violence that measures above and beyond the protection currently provided by the law are required. The present law is not working; there needs to be an amendment. There has been no suggestion that anyone has been deprived of his or her freedom of speech since the enactment of the racial vilification legislation. I am sure that freedom of speech will not be deprived by this amendment. There is a clear difference between genuine exercise of freedom of speech and incitement to hatred, violence and murder. Clause 49ZT(2)(c) states that the following are not unlawful:
      (c) a public act, done reasonably and in good faith, for academic, artistic, scientific or research purposes or for other purposes in the public interest, including discussion or debate about and expositions of any act or matter.

That clearly provides exemptions under a charge of homosexual vilification. Any decent, human, Christian church that discussed homosexuality reasonably and in good faith would not possibly offend against this legislation.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: Teaching on the subject.

The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: Of course, if they teach that homosexuality is a vile act that should be opposed, that would be a problem; that leads to the bashing and murder that is happening now, to which I personally object. Any society claiming to be civilised must protect its citizens from the sort of violence now being experienced by the homosexual community in Australia. The bill provides an excellent means of doing just that. However, the absence of provisions regarding HIV infection is a fault in the bill and I look forward to the bill that the Government has promised to introduce in the next session of Parliament. From the speeches I have heard this evening, I have grave doubts that one of the Government parties will be supporting that bill.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN [6.2]: Was it not John Donne who wrote:
      No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is . . . a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; . . . and therefore send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

It is appropriate that this is a law and order issue. I listened to the remarks of the Hon. P. F. O'Grady and was impressed by the responsible manner in which he debated this matter. I ask him to consider that the bill will be all the better for having been circulated among the community to allow individuals, churches and other groups to consider it, discuss it, and test it against legal advice. It may well be that when we again meet we will all agree, and the bill will be all the better for that. I support the remarks of the Minister and will vote against this bill in order that it can be discussed during the winter recess.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [6.3]: On behalf of the Call to Australia group I place on record our total opposition to the Anti-Discrimination (Homosexual Vilification) Amendment Bill. The Government has indicated it will oppose the bill. That raises the question of whether a prolonged debate should proceed at this time. Some comments have been made, and I am in the difficult position of wishing to respond to those points without taking up the time of the House, because, as I say, the Government plans to introduce its own bill, table it for the winter recess, and then debate it in September. At that time there would be a set-piece debate, amendments and so on.

In some ways this bill might be thought to be a means by which the honourable member for Bligh is merely pushing her political barrow. I believe that its introduction has done irreparable damage to the whole homosexual vilification initiative. My assessment of responses from people expressing their anger, from the Council of Churches and other bodies, is that Clover Moore has successfully mobilised opposition to the concept of homosexual vilification. She has probably achieved that more successfully than I could, and to that extent I should thank her for her impatience and desire to use the homosexual issue to curry support in her electorate of Bligh, where we know many homosexual people reside, and where many homosexuals gather. I am sure she hopes this will ensure her re-election in 1995. I believe her push has backfired, and that is a pity. The Attorney General said that this premature debate has made the passage of his legislation more difficult. I agree with that.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Why?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: Because her premature action has now aroused opposition in this State to the homosexual vilification concept. I am being flooded with letters, statements and faxes from all over the State.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: I am not.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: You will not get them because you represent the homosexual lobby and they will not bother sending them to you. This is the reality of what has happened as a result of Clover Moore and the Democrats taking up the issue. They have defeated their own cause. However, we will wait and see. I do not know how often it has to be restated, because of interjections by members when the Hon. D. J. Gay was speaking, that to question or oppose homosexual vilification is in no way to say that you are happy about so-called gay bashing. I am totally opposed to so-called gay bashing - the bashing of homosexuals. I am totally opposed to any violence or attacks directed against homosexual men, or lesbians, or whoever they may be. I am also opposed to strong verbal attacks against those people. The Hon. P. F. O'Grady stated on the "7.30 Report" on the ABC that if he was called a faggot he would not regard that as vilification. I would never call a
Page 2578
homosexual a faggot because I do not believe that kind of language should be used.

It is difficult to understand what members who support this legislation really mean. As the Hon. J. F. Ryan said, when churches seek legal advice as to how this type of legislation would work, it is clear that the legislation is very confusing. The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann said in her contribution that if churches teach that homosexuality acts are vile, that could be considered to be homosexual vilification. It is clear that different interpretations are being placed on those words. The supporters of the bill are indicating that it is an unworkable piece of legislation, and I believe the concept is unworkable as well.

The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann and the Hon. P. F. O'Grady referred to murders of homosexuals, and of course we are all totally opposed to that. I was quite angry when I realised that the Hon. P. F. O'Grady had been bashed on one occasion. I expressed my anger about that and my sympathy to him when I met him on the 12th floor of this Parliament. There is no evidence that this legislation will have any effect on the number of so-called gay bashings, that is, violence against homosexual men, in Sydney or elsewhere in New South Wales. In fact, a bill such as this could be the cause of attacks on homosexuals. If homosexuals persist in provocative actions, each provocative action results in the temperature rising. As the temperature rises, the reporting of violence against homosexuals increases. I refer to everything from the homosexual mardi gras parade to the so-called homosexual kissing in Pitt Street. I believe that each of those events provokes a backlash.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Why?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: It provokes a backlash because people are offended by it.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Violent people?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: People who do not accept homosexuality as normal.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Do they become violent?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: No, but I am saying that the increase in violence is directly related to provocation by homosexual groups.

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: That is never an excuse for violence.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: It is no excuse for violence, but those who support this bill say that overnight it will reduce violence in our city. I say that will not happen and that the increase in violence against homosexuals is due to the provocation by homosexual activists in our city. Call to Australia is opposed to violence and opposed to the incitement of violence. The present legislation adequately covers those matters, and one might question why the Attorney General believes it is necessary to have further legislation to reduce violence. It might have been said that an object of this bill was to make people like or love homosexuals, but that is not the case. It cannot be argued that the bill will reduce violence and incitement to violence, because that is already covered in legislation. The Attorney General, in a letter dated 7th April, 1993, stated:
      I have been advised that the Act is still in operation and provides for two summary offences of incitement, each carrying a maximum of six months imprisonment and\or a $100 fine.

The Attorney General was referring to the Crimes Prevention Act. He went on to say:
      The Act provides that an offence is committed if:
      (a) a person incites, urges, aids or encourages the commission of crimes, or the carrying on of any operations for the commission of crimes; or
      (b) a person prints or publishes writing which incites, urges, aids or encourages the commission of crimes, or the carrying on of any operations for the commission of crimes.

Therefore, the measures in this bill are already provided in existing crime prevention legislation. If there is evidence of the incitement of violence against homosexuals, the present law should be invoked. If anyone committed such an act within my hearing, I would use that law to ensure that a complaint was laid against that person. We are faced with a dilemma in debating this legislation. The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby quoted a very offensive car sticker, and I will not repeat it in this debate. However, I challenge her to say when she saw that sticker on a car in Sydney.

The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: I have seen that sticker -

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: When did you see it on a car in Sydney?

The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: I have seen that sticker on more than one car in Sydney.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: In Sydney?

The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: In Sydney.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I doubt that very much; I just doubt that very much. I live in Sydney and I am all the time travelling in Sydney and discussing this matter with people. That sticker has never been reported to me, nor has it been sighted. I would be very interested to have any evidence of it.

The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: Have you never seen it?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: No, but it should be discouraged. I do not know whether the honourable member is putting up a straw argument that cannot be supported. When the honourable member for Bligh introduced the bill she was interviewed in the media and said, "Now my bill will gag the Reverend Fred Nile". She used those words. I asked her during the radio program to give examples of any instances when I have said anything that would incite violence against homosexuals. She said, "I have one from Hobart by Mr Bloggs and I have one from Perth". The interviewer and I both asked her for examples of things I had said, but she said, "I
Page 2579
can't give any examples". That did not stop her saying, "I am going to gag Fred Nile".

Let us be clear about the aims and objectives of this bill. I believe the honourable member was correct, that the intention of the bill is to gag not just me but anyone who regards homosexuality as unnatural, because we accept that God created a heterosexual society. We believe that homosexuality is not natural; it is unnatural and abnormal. I would say that the majority of people in New South Wales would believe that. That view will be tested as the debate proceeds. Comparison has been made between this legislation and the racial vilification legislation. I supported that legislation because I see a clear distinction between the two issues. A person is born into a race, whether it is Vietnamese, Chinese, or any other. If a person is born Chinese, he is Chinese, and he dies Chinese. We know from the homosexual literature that people choose to be homosexual. In fact, they believe it to be a better lifestyle than the heterosexual lifestyle. A number of my close supporters are former homosexuals. They were in fact activists - active members of the gay liberation.

The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Former?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: Yes, former. They are now converted and are no longer homosexuals. One cannot stop a Chinese man from being Chinese; he will always be Chinese. But people go into the homosexual movement and come out of it again. It is an insult to those of ethnic origins to compare their situation with that of homosexuals; it is totally and absolutely different. I think it was the Hon. P. F. O'Grady who said that the only people who will be affected by the bill will be those who incite violence against others.

I criticised Mr Keating's decision to allow homosexuals to join the armed services. One tries to coin a catchy phrase that the media can use, and I said that the decision would change our army of Anzacs into an army of queens. Because of that I received a letter from the Anti-Discrimination Board, threatening me. The letter stated that the board had received a complaint that what I had said was an incitement to violence based on gross discrimination of a minority group. The letter is from the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board, Steve Mark. In that letter he says that homosexual vilification is gross discrimination of a minority group. That is yet another interpretation, but a very broad one. Where is the incitement? Where is the vilification?

The Anti-Discrimination Board indicated that if the homosexual vilification legislation had been enacted, the board could have acted against me on the comment I made, based on what the board saw as gross discrimination. There is no mention of gross discrimination in the legislation. It refers to inciting violence. That example shows how broadly the legislation would be interpreted. I have no doubt that if this legislation is passed, any person who makes a comment against homosexuals or the homosexual lifestyle would be the subject of a complaint. The Hon. P. F. O'Grady may not lay the complaint, but someone made the complaint against me. I have already been through this complaint procedure.

When I was hosting a program on radio 2GB on Sunday nights some criticism was made, and complaints were then made of that criticism. It resulted in what was virtually a court case that lasted for some time and probably cost 2GB about $50,000 in legal fees. In the end it was virtually dismissed. This legislation could be used to harass people. The Anti-Discrimination Board would have to investigate a complaint, yet in the end the complaint may not be proved. However, by then the damage is done. The person against whom the complaint is made will have suffered the harassment of appearing before the Anti-Discrimination Board. Only a stupid person would appear without legal support or advice, so a prudent person would hire lawyers to assist in his defence, and immediately expense is incurred. I am advised that if a complaint is not proved, costs will not be awarded against the person who made the complaint. One has to pay one's own legal fees. Every individual in this Chamber could be set up one by one and put through the whole procedure.

Those are some of the reasons I am concerned about the legislation. The other aspect is that the legislation is so embracing. It talks about speaking, writing, printing, displaying notices, broadcasting, telecasting, screening, and the playing of tapes. It also talks about actions and gestures, the wearing or displaying of clothing, signs, flags, emblems and insignia. It goes on and on. I am totally opposed to so-called gay bashing, homosexual bashing. I would be quite happy to follow up these cases, because the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby made the statement that certain groups and individuals are doing the bashing. I should like to know who those groups and individuals are. Who is inciting violence against homosexuals, inciting people to murder them in Sydney?

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: If we know their names, they should be prosecuted.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: That is what I am saying. The names are certainly unknown to me. If I had evidence that the National Action organisation was encouraging violence against persons on the basis of race, I would follow that up as well. But I am totally unaware of it. I wonder whether this has been introduced to make the debate more emotional and to try to influence some coalition and Opposition members to support the bill. I believe we must deal with facts, with what is happening in our State and our city, not what is happening in New York or other States. Call to Australia opposes the bill.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD [6.22]: The contribution of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile was a knee-jerk response. The proposed legislation contains three caveats to protect the broad definition and application of the Act about which he is concerned. Section 49ZTA provides that the action has to threaten physical harm, or incite others to threaten, so it is both threatening or inciting; and, for any prosecution to be conducted under the Act, proposed subsection
Page 2580
49ZTA(2) provides that the Attorney General has to consent to any prosecution. The bill contains those three safeguards. The letter from the Anti- Discrimination Board which Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile mentioned did not necessarily impress me, because the concept of gross discrimination is not contained in the Act.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The Anti-Discrimination Board -

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: I am not interested in what the Anti-Discrimination Board is saying; I am reading the legislation that will become the law of this State.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The board will.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: Will Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile give me a go? I sat in silence and listened to him for the past 10 or 15 minutes. Proposed section 49ZT makes it clear that a person can make certain statements about public acts done in good faith. I think some people, like Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile, would make their statements in good faith and would argue they are in the public interest. Anyone who argues that protections are not built into proposed sections 49ZT and 49ZTA is not reading the bill precisely. The bill has another feature.

Just as the Anti-Discrimination (Racial Vilification) Amendment Act was designed to send to people in the community who incite violence and make threats against particular racial groups the message that that type of behaviour is unacceptable, this bill is designed to send a message to people that it is intolerable for them to use threats or incite physical harm against individuals. It is not necessarily about making statements that do not have those narrow definitions provided in proposed section 49ZTA(1)(a) and (b). Those points have to be made before the provisions of the legislation can be invoked. The fear brought into the debate by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is totally misplaced, and would be rejected by anyone who reads the bill rather than relies on what someone says in this Parliament or anywhere else. The bill is quite clear and in the end -

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The board will interpret it.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: The board can interpret all it likes.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: And enforce it.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: No, it will not.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: It will.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile does not understand this bill. Before anyone can be prosecuted under this legislation the Attorney General has to consent. That is the bottom line, the end of the story. I support the bill.

The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [6.25]: This legislation effectively provides that it is time to say no to people who discriminate against others on the basis of their sexual preferences - even if some members of this House do not like those sexual preferences. People have a variety of sexual preferences and it is their business what they do in the privacy of their own homes. Some members of the community express hatred towards people who have different sexual preferences from theirs, and by their expression of disgust they create an atmosphere of violence. I believe that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is scared of the legislation because he believes he might be the first victim of it.

There is no doubt that some of the public comments by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile have provoked violence and vilification against people who have a different sexual preference from his. He talks about reformed homosexuals - I have never heard of such extraordinary comment. How can one reform homosexuals? That means that if a person has a particular sexual choice, he or she is wrong to make that choice. People are entitled to sexual choices, even though this House may not agree with them. People's sexual choices have nothing to do with honourable members, as long as those people do not harm anyone in the community apart from themselves. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile protesteth too much. I support the bill.

The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS [6.27]: I support the bill, and I am disappointed with the attitude of the Government. We heard the same old tired argument from the Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations tonight that we have been hearing for the past few weeks: "We do not really want this bill. If you people would just be patient; if you would just wait a little bit, we really have a better bill". No one has seen the better bill, and the Government has only started talking about the so-called package because a real bill has been introduced. It is the same tired, old response of a government that is fundamentally conservative and in a state of fear and confusion. It continues to tell this House that somewhere or other in the future it will have its own package, and that no notice should be taken of this bill. That is an unworthy argument, one that should be rejected absolutely.

I should like to make a few points in response to Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile. He proclaims that he has no hatred of homosexuals, but his speech was full of fear and loathing. It is obviously true, and honourable members know it is true, that by his actions, speeches and behaviour he has been responsible for inciting violence against homosexuals. It has been clearly evident from some of the marches and rallies he has tried to organise in relation to the gay and lesbian mardi gras, his attacks on the mardi gras, and his throwaway lines such as, "The mardi gras provokes a backlash". As usual, he is blaming the victim. He is really saying that because half a million Sydneysiders - homosexuals and others - choose to march in the mardi gras they are provoking
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a backlash. But he is really saying that the homophobes who beat up homosexuals are not responsible.

Apparently those who are responsible are the people who dare to make public their own sexual preferences and who dare, as people like I and other members of this House have done, to march with them to express a sense of solidarity to a group in the community that has been the subject of hatred and violence and, as other people have pointed out, murder. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile said that he had received an incredible amount of mail. That seems strange to me when most members in this House received very little mail. The few letters that I and other members have received make it clear that there has been a gradual acceptance in our community of the right of homosexuals to be equal in every aspect.

It is fortunate that the people represented by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile, like those who denigrate homosexuals, are a small minority in our community. It does the honourable member's credibility no good for him to suggest that he receives lots of mail that reveals a community backlash. He gave the game away by thanking the honourable member for Bligh for her impatience. He gloated that, as he put it, she had done irreparable damage to the vilification initiative by introducing the bill. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is expressing a twisted opinion. He is saying that he is grateful for the damage that has been caused to the vilification initiative because other people have had the courage to debate the issue. Most of what he said was as dishonest as that. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile pretends to be tolerant; he pretends to have a set of beliefs. But tonight what he was really doing was expressing his hatred.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: On a point of order. Mr Deputy-President, under Standing Order 80 I ask you to ask the honourable member to apologise and to withdraw her remarks. She is doing exactly what I am concerned will happen under this homosexual vilification legislation - she is provoking violence, hatred and hurt. The honourable member should apologise and withdraw.

The Hon. Jan Burnswoods: On the point of order. I am at a loss to understand how Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile could possibly think I was provoking any hatred or violence against him. I was pointing out that, while on the surface what he said appeared to suggest tolerance, he accused the honourable member for Bligh of provoking opposition. Therefore, he was thanking her for this premature debate, which has delayed the implementation of homosexual vilification legislation. I did not say what Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is alleging I said.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: Further to the point of order. I heard quite clearly what the honourable member said. She said that I was attempting to be tolerant, but I was inciting violence and hatred. I find that very offensive. She has impugned my motives. Under Standing Orders 80 and 81 I ask her to withdraw those remarks. She has proved a point. Her remarks go to the essence of this debate.

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. D. J. Gay): Order! If Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile finds the words offensive the Hon. Jan Burnswoods should withdraw without any direction from the Chair. I ask the Hon. Jan Burnswoods to withdraw her remarks.

The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: If Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile finds my words offensive, I will certainly withdraw them. Earlier I referred to the fact that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile had said he had received a lot of correspondence on this issue, which fits in with his well-known tendency to exaggerate the votes that he and his party get. Members often refer to 2 per cent parties and 3 per cent parties, but Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile's party receives less than 1.4 per cent of the vote.

The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [6.35], in reply: I thank honourable members for their contributions to this debate. Mr Deputy-President, I thank you in particular for your thoughtful contribution. I also thank the Hon. J. F. Ryan for his contribution. I am grateful for the support of Opposition members. I would like to put two things on the public record. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 29th March, entitled "Church backs pro-gay bill", states:
      The Uniting Church has thrown its support behind legislation that would make vilification of homosexuals illegal.
      The general secretary of the Church's Board for Social Responsibility, the Rev Harry Herbert, said the stance continued the Church's support of anti-discrimination legislation.
      "We've supported in the past a lot of measures in regard to anti-discrimination. This is just another one," he said.
      "We recognise that the vilification of gays and lesbians is a serious problem because it encourages violence and persecution. The right to free speech stops where people's lives are at risk.
      "Persecution on the grounds of sexuality is as loathsome as persecution on the grounds of race."
      The decision further distanced the Church, which with around 50,000 adherents is the third largest Christian denomination in Australia, from the Rev Fred Nile, MLC, who is also a Uniting minister.
      Mr Nile has threatened to do everything in his power to block the bill, which was sponsored by Independent MP Ms Clover Moore.

We know, because of what we have heard tonight, that that is exactly what Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is trying to do. He said that I could not name any groups or people who were bashing gays. A police lesbian and gay group liaison officer stated - and this is from police records:
      Thirteen homosexual men have been murdered by gay bashers in the past four years.
      69 per cent of assaults in Surry Hills are gay related.

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          In 1991 the police received reports of 136 homosexual assaults.
      Only a few months ago a middle aged man was badly beaten in Newtown. Four skinheads yelling, "You're dead, faggot", tried to cut off his ear and stabbed him in the neck.

It is obvious that groups of skinheads and groups of teenagers are carrying out these assaults. If the groups have names, I do not know what those names are, but they are going around in packs. That is dangerous for the gay community so police have introduced a whistle program. Homosexuals cannot and do not walk on some Sydney streets at night unaccompanied without being in fear of their lives. We cannot continue to ignore this. There was a need for legislation. The honourable member for Bligh introduced that legislation in another place. I am happy to support it. Equally, I would be happy to support the expanded legislation mentioned earlier by the Leader of the Government, particularly in view of the fact that there will be an important reference to people suffering HIV-AIDS who are discriminated against. I believe it is proper to take action on this matter now, which is why I introduced the bill in this House. I urge all honourable members to support it.

Question - That this bill be now read a second time - put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 14

Mrs Arena Mr O'Grady
Ms Burnswoods Mr Shaw
Mr Egan Mr Vaughan
Mr Enderbury Mrs Walker
Mr Jones
Miss Kirkby Tellers,
Mrs Kite Dr Burgmann
Mr Macdonald Mrs Isaksen
Noes, 15

Mr Bull Revd F. J. Nile
Mrs Evans Mr Pickering
Miss Gardiner Mr Samios
Mr Hannaford Mrs Sham-Ho
Mr Jobling Mr Webster
Mr Moppett Tellers,
Mr Mutch Mrs Forsythe
Mrs Nile Mr Ryan
Pairs

Mr Dyer Mrs Chadwick
Mr Johnson Mr Coleman
Mr Kaldis Dr Goldsmith
Mr Manson Dr Pezzutti
Mr Obeid Mr Rowland Smith
Mrs Symonds Mr Willis

Question so resolved in the negative.

Motion negatived.