The Inner City Legal Centre is a specialist legal centre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities across NSW. We regularly advise on discrimination and vilification matters.
Discrimination is when someone treats you unfavourably because of something about you, like your sex, sexuality or gender.
Vilification is when someone publicly incites hatred or violence based on something about you — again like your sex, sexuality or gender.
In NSW vilification may also be treated as a criminal offence, where, by a public act, a person incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons by either threatening or inciting others to threaten physical harm towards, or towards any property of, a person or group of persons.
Similar provisions exist for serious transgender, homosexual, and HIV/AIDS vilification.
If a complaint is made and the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) considers it worthy of prosecution, the president may refer it to the Attorney General within 28 days of receiving it. Since 1990 the Attorney General has delegated this role to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The DPP has never brought a case under these provisions, although several requests have been made.
Requests sent to the DPP from the ADB, individual citizens and the Attorney General include vilification directed towards a homosexual in a restaurant; shouting public abuse at a homosexual; harassment of a gay couple by a neighbour; and comments in a radio broadcast directed towards disposing of homosexuals.
If you feel you have experienced discrimination or vilification on the basis of your sexuality, sex or gender identity, contact the Inner City Legal Centre for free, confidential legal advice.
By AMY MCGOWAN
info: Amy McGowan is a solicitor at the Inner City Legal Centre. You can call ICLC on 02 9332 1966 or visit www.iclc.org.au