Announced in December, the law would expand Victoria Police’s existing powers, allowing them to move someone on under a number of conditions. These included if police believed a person was impeding lawful access to premises, was causing others to have a “reasonable fear of violence”, or if a person was suspected of having committed an unrelated offence in that public place in the last 12 hours.
“These laws will have a serious impact on the LGBTI community and our rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression given, for example, the marriage equality protest movement and large-scale events such as Pride March,” Human Rights Law Centre’s Anna Brown told the Star Observer.
“Unfortunately we do have a history of criminalisation and inappropriate policing of LGBTI people, and giving police these broad sweeping powers could potentially undo the gains of the past decades.”
Harsh penalties apply to those repeatedly moved on by police, including being barred from a particular public place for up to one year, with up to two years imprisonment for breaches of that order. Refusal to comply with a move on order can lead to fine of over $700.
The Star Observer contacted Victorian Police Minister Kim Wells for comment on whether the proposed laws could damage the relationship between Victoria Police and the LGBTI community, but was referred to a general statement issued in December by Attorney-General Robert Clarke.
“Every Victorian has the right to protest and express their views. However, when individuals resort to unlawful tactics that threaten the livelihood of law-abiding businesses, employees and their families, they must be held to account,” the statement read.