Victoria’s hate speech legislation could be revised in a push to extend the state’s anti-vilification laws to protect women and transgender people from hateful online trolls.
By Alex White
Women would receive special protection from online trolls under a new law proposed in Victoria.
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten, will introduce new legislation into the state parliament this week, designed to stop the trolling of women and transgender Victorians.
The Racial and Religious Tolerance Amendment Bill 2019 aims to extend Victoria’s anti-vilification laws — currently reserved to racial and religious vilification — to include hate speech based on gender, as well as disability, sexual orientation and carries a jail term of up to six months.
“Hate speech lives and breeds in social media feeds and the comments sections of news articles. Women are shamed and bullied through the everyday mediums that we use to consume media and communicate,” Ms Patten said.
“People need to take personal responsibility for their actions. These are real messages, sent and received by real people — with very real effect. That is why I’m proposing real penalties.
“This bullying can lead to suicide. It causes physical, psychological and emotional harm. It affects people’s sense of self-worth and feelings of safety and belonging in the community.”
Ms Patten said women in the public eye are especially targeted.
It is not yet known if the new proposal is likely to receive support in the Legislative Council.