New emergency laws in Australia will make it illegal to vilify, intimidate or threaten harm against LGBTI and religious people during the same-sex marriage postal survey.
The legislation was approved by the Coalition party room on Tuesday. It’s expected to pass through parliament by the end of the week.
Under the new laws, people who engage in such behavior could face civil penalties of fines up to $12,600. It also applies to protecting people’s views on the survey.
The bill has a sunset provision, meaning it will only last the duration of the survey.
If people want to pursue a complaint of a breach in these new laws, they must get the approval of attorney-general George Brandis. According to finance minister Mathias Cormann, Brandis will show ‘a bias towards freedom of speech’.
An increasingly grisly debate
The debate over marriage equality is bringing out the best and worst in people in Australia. These laws aim to help combat the increasing volatility.
On the flip side, a radio caller praised Hitler for putting gay people in concentration camps. Hateful posters have appeared throughout the country and people who attended a gay play found their car tires slashed after.
Calls to LGBTI counselors have increased exponentially and ads both in support of and against marriage equality are stirring up attention.