In late June, the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) passed The Crimes Amendment (Publicly Threatening and Inciting Violence) Bill 2018. The Australian homophobia law, which comes into effect today, outlines protections against discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality, religion and race. It also adds protection for bisexual, non-binary and intersex people and carries a stiff penalty for those who discriminate against these groups.
The Crimes Amendment was introduced to the NSW Parliament in the beginning of June and passed only two weeks later on June 21. The new law protects people based on race, religion, sexuality, gender, intersex status and HIV status. The law doesn’t only protect against physical violence either; it also protects against hate speech, be it broadcast, distributed via flyer or just said aloud.
During Australia‘s marriage equality plebiscite last year, there were a number of homophobic posters placed around Melbourne, funded by an American neo-Nazi group. Though Melbourne is in the state of Victoria, similar posters would not be allowed in NSW now that this law has been passed.
Likewise, the recent incident in Missouri where three straight men were beaten because their assaulter assumed they were gay wouldn’t fly under the Australia homophobia law. The Crimes Amendment explicitly states that it doesn’t matter whether or not the “alleged offender’s assumptions or beliefs about an attribute of another person or a member of a group of persons were correct or incorrect.”
The penalties for breaking the laws are strong. If an individual breaks the new laws, they can be punished by a fine of $11,000 AUD (a little over $8,000 USD), three years in prison or both. A corporation that breaks the law will be hit with a $55,000 AUD fine (about $40,000 USD).
New South Wales is the largest state in Australia and home to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.