The Baird government's refusal to legislate against anti-Muslim hate speech is "playing into the hands" of terrorist groups such as Islamic State, as well as extreme right-wing groups, Muslim community leaders and counter-terrorism experts have warned.
The NSW government is formulating a long-awaited overhaul of racial vilification laws, promising to strengthen the legislation and streamline it to make prosecutions easier. Fairfax Media understands the government will not consider including religion in the Act, which outlaws inciting violence based on race, colour, descent or ethno-religious origin.
NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton would not say why religion would be omitted. However a spokeswoman pointed to the government's 2013 review of the Act, which made no recommendation to include religion.
In that review, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties was among those who opposed the inclusion of religion. The council's president Stephen Blanks told Fairfax Media that religion was "not an inherent characteristic of a person like race is ... and one should be free to criticise religion".
NSWCCL stands by this statement and continues to oppose the inclusion of religion in racial vilification laws.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald