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Green Left: Rainbow activists call for community solidarity to defend trans rights

Leading up to International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the media was campaigning for councils to cancel drag story time events in response to threats from right-wing groups.

Rainbow Community Angel Flis Marlowe stated that, “These people were calling library staff ‘groomers’ and ‘pedophiles’. It was horrendous. Ten councils cancelled their drag story-telling shows. When the Lethem Library, sadly, had to cancel theirs, we were prepared. We met the librarians; we visited the library and we worked with Frock Hudson, the drag performer scheduled to read on the day.”

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Irina Dunn: The night I didn’t get arrested

It was about 11pm on 6 November 1981, the eve of the inquest into the death of Warren Lanfranchi, who had been gunned down by Detective Roger Rogerson in a back lane in Chippendale in June of that year. Four of us were getting ready to paste large posters featuring the infamous Detective onto the glass doors of the old Coroner’s Court in Glebe on the corner of Parramatta Road and Ross Street.

There was Ms X, Ms Y, Kevin Storey and me.

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Submission: Review of post-sentence terrorism orders: Division 105A of the Criminal Code Act 1995

Liberty Victoria and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) thank the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) for the opportunity to contribute to this Review of post-sentence terrorism orders: Division 105A of the Criminal Code Act 1995. Liberty Victoria and the NSWCCL acknowledge the importance of protecting the community from acts of terrorism. However, in our submission we call for the abolition of continuing detention orders. The risk assessment tools underpinning these orders are deeply flawed and the regime amounts to arbitrary detention. 

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Perth Now: Poll pledge on faith leads to discrimination law review

Laws protecting vulnerable groups from discrimination will go under review in NSW, after the state's top lawmaker faced pressure from civil liberty groups. Attorney-General Michael Daley revealed on Thursday he had referred NSW's Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to the NSW Law Reform Commission.

It comes after Mr Daley received pushback for amendments he introduced to parliament last month to prohibit religious vilification, which was promised by the government ahead of the last election.

The bill would make it unlawful to publicly incite hatred towards or severely ridicule a person or group because of their religious belief, affiliation or activity which was opposed by several groups including NSW Council for Civil Liberties who donned the moves as either overly restrictive or insufficient to address issues with existing laws.

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The Conversation: Big W has withdrawn Welcome to Sex from its stores to protect staff – but teen sex education can keep young people safe

Australia has a long and unsettling history of literary censorship. Prohibiting books was a tradition that proceeded federation and continued up until the 1970s. Books that the state deemed morally corrosive or too sexually explicit were considered unfit for public dissemination.  NSWCCL as a fledgling organisation was largely responsible for the changes in censorship laws in the early seventies by campaigning to gain entry for many books which were readily available in the UK, US and many other countries but which were denied entry into Australia.

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Vale David Bernie 25.9.1955 - 7.7.2023

David Bernie, a beloved member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties was the driving force behind the Council’s push for an Australian Human Rights Act for decades. David’s support for the Act was underpinned by a deep, personal belief that the State should provide an explicit statutory basis for respecting, protecting and promoting fundamental human rights.

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Submission: Review of post-sentence terrorism orders: Division 105A of the Criminal Code Act 1995

NSWCCL and Liberty Victoria have made a joint submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security responding to its review under section 29(bbaaa) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 into the operation, effectiveness and implications of Division 105A of the Criminal Code, and any other provision of the Criminal Code Act 1995 as it relates to that Division.

Division 105A provides for post sentence orders in relation to terrorism. It enables two main forms of post-sentence orders: continuing detention orders and extended supervision orders.

We acknowledges the importance of protecting the community from acts of terrorism. Terrorism and the threat of terrorism violate the rights to life and security of innocent people. Terrorism is regarded as a crime apart from others as it threatens the very fabric of liberal democracy by utilising violence and fear to further, often fundamentally illiberal, political, religious or ideological goals.

The task currently before the PJCIS is to evaluate, in light of the recent INSLM report, the operation and merit of Div 105A, with a view to whether amendment may be necessary, and, if reform is required, what form such amendment should take. In assessing the merit and necessity of any security measure, a balance must be struck between the need to ensure security, and the need to protect the values that are lie at the heart of our democracy—values of liberty, justice, tolerance, and social cohesion. 

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Melissa Dib fact checks the no campaign

Law Student and Yes voter, Melissa Dib, put some of the more spurious claims of the 'No' campaign to the test.

Australia has been considering constitutional recognition for more than 15 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have asked that the form of recognition come through a Voice to Parliament, which will give advice on laws and policies that affect Indigenous people.

Changing the Constitution seems to always be the most tedious task, and we very much have the fathers of the Federation Sir John Quick and Sir Robert Garran to thank for that. 

So, what are some of these misconceptions about the Voice to Parliament?

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Proposed Amendments to NSW Anti-Discrimination Act Will Fuel Transphobic Hate

During the Morrision Government, there were attempts federally and state-wide to pass laws to provide religious people with antidiscrimination protections, yet these bills also contained measures that tended toward rights law to the point that those of faith would be empowered to discriminate, Sydney Criminal Lawyers' Paul Gregoire reports. 

These attempts to insert such laws into the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) (the Act), spearheaded by One Nation MLC Mark Latham were backed by the coalition. 

The Minn's Government response, the religious vilification bill isn’t the solution. Rather it’s a band-aid law to appease its waning religious vote, that, in the current political climate, will further send a destructive message to trans communities, while Labor is aware that the right approach is a new Act.

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Green Left: NSW legal groups call for new religious discrimination amendments to be rejected

Civil and legal rights groups are urging New South Wales Labor to rethink its amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977. They say religious exemptions in the current law are already discriminatory and the proposed changes are too vague, Green Left's Rachel Evans reports. 

Attorney General Michael Daley introduced the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Vilification) Bill 2023 on June 28, saying the bill “will also protect people who do not hold religious beliefs or affiliations or who do not engage in religious activity, in recognition that these are also beliefs about religious matters that should be protected”.

But Josh Pallas, President of NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL), said there is “uncertainty” around the impact the bill could have on other fundamental rights. He said the changes were too broad and urged it be sent to Law Reform Commission for examination adding, it “cannot be fixed with amendments”.

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Media Statement: Mostafa Azimitabar - It's not OK

Justice Michael Murphy found in favour of the Commonwealth after Mostafa Azimitabar, 37, launched a lawsuit about his detention inside two Melbourne hotels for 14 months in 2019 and 2020.

Justice Murphy said his ruling should not be “understood as my approving the immigration detention and what the applicant was required to endure”.

“I can only wonder at the lack of thought, indeed lack of care and humanity, in detaining a person with serious psychiatric and psychological problems in the hotels for 14 months,” he said.

“But the decision in this case does not turn on the humanity of the applicant’s detention; it is about whether the minister had the power under the act to approve the hotels as places of immigration detention and, therefore, to detain the applicant as he was.”

“I consider the minister had (and has) the power to do so.”

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Submission: Inquiry into Australia's Human Rights Framework

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (Committee) Inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights Framework.

The NSWCCL fundamentally supports enhanced and enforceable protections for human rights in Australia. The NSWCCL is a member of the Charter of Rights (Charter) campaign coalition, an alliance of 90 organisations across the Australian community and endorses the Charter campaign submission to this Inquiry.

In our submission we have made a number of recommendations for the proposed framework. 

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Media Statement: The ICAC hands down findings on former NSW premier and Mr Daryl Maguire

NSWCCL is deeply concerned with the risk of corruption because, if not effectively checked, it threatens our democratic values and processes – including the rights and liberties of all people. We support a strong and effective ICAC, appropriately constrained by safeguards for individual liberties and rights that are compatible with operational effectiveness.

The investigation into Ms Berejiklian’s conduct was appropriate and we are pleased to see it reach a conclusion. Whilst it has taken considerable time for the ICAC to deliver its findings the Council believes that delays in the ICAC reporting should be addressed by increasing the ICAC's funding and resources, not by imposing arbitrary deadlines on the ICAC.

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Star Observer: NSW Labor’s Proposed Religious Vilification Law Criticised

The NSW Labor government on Wednesday introduced a bill to ban vilification on the grounds of religious belief or affiliation. The proposed changes to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 have been criticised as convoluted and vague and for failing to adequately protect vulnerable communities, Star Observer's Robbie Mason reports. 

Civil liberties and law groups have criticised the bill due to its vagueness of terms in the bill which could mean organisations – and not just individuals – are protected from religious vilification. 

Josh Palles, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties has said that "[NSWCCL] opposes the Bill in its current form. The Bill cannot be fixed with amendments.”

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Media Statement: Introduction of the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Vilification) Bill 2023 – What on earth is driving this nonsense?

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) supports a comprehensive review of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act. Anti-discrimination law reform is long overdue and necessary. NSWCCL is not opposed, in principle, to reforms that protect people from vilification for their religious expression or affiliation, however, the Bill does more than this and fails to address other necessary issues.

NSWCCL insists that the Anti-Discrimination Act should protect individuals from vilification but not institutions and not beliefs, which are just ideas which must be freely contestable. The government’s Bill may effectively prohibit vilification or severe ridicule of beliefs or views themselves, or of institutions or organisations, and not merely the vilification or severe ridicule of persons because they belong to a religious group. The Bill, therefore, unacceptably impedes freedom of expression, legitimate criticism and debate.

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Neos Kosmos: No, the voice proposal does not contradict racial discrimination laws

Neos Kosmos writes that there have been social media posts circulating that claim the Voice to Parliament referendum directly contradicts Australian racial discrimination laws and international conventions. Experts have reiterated there is nothing ‘illegal’ about Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s proposal. 

The social media posts reference section 9 and 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act as ‘proof’, with one facebook post claiming that the Act contradicts the proposed Voice Referendum and ‘favour[s] one race over another’. Such erroneous claims have been shut down by leading experts, who state that the proposed advisory body will not restrict anyone else's rights. One post claims Albanese is attempting to ‘entice’ individuals into voting ‘yes’, contrary to section 11.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, going as far as to say Albanese is asking Australian citizens to ‘unlawfully commit an act’ in voting ‘yes’. Section 9 of the Racial Discrimination Act allows individuals to complain if they have been subjected to treatment on the basis of their race, which limits their rights. 

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Submission: Review of the Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Act 2021

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (‘NSWCCL’) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security regarding its review of the operation, effectiveness and implications of the amendments made to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (‘Migration Act’) by Schedule 1 of the Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Act 2021 (Cth) (‘Clarifying Act’).

The Clarifying Act claims to support Australia’s international non-refoulement obligations by amending the Migration Act to clarify that it does not require or authorise the removal of a person who is deemed an unlawful non-citizen and for whom a protection finding has been made through the protection visa process.

However, NSWCCL is deeply concerned that by operation and effect, the Clarifying Act subjects a person captured by the laws to ongoing mandatory immigration detention, without any time limit or safeguards to prevent prolonged or indefinite detention.

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News.com.au: Sydney’s Town Hall flooded by trans rights protest calling for bodily autonomy

About 400 supporters flooded Sydney’s Town Hall on Sunday afternoon, calling for increased rights for trans people. This event celebrated the 45th anniversary of Sydney’s first Mardis Gras march on June 24, 1978, as well as the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969 after the violent police raid of a New York gay bar.

The coalition of trans rights and community groups, including the Rainbow Rights Coalition, Safe Schools, the United Workers Union and Community Action for Rainbow Rights, Pride in Protest and the NSW Civil Liberties Council demanded tightened anti-discrimination laws to protect trans people when applying for jobs or housing, or when accessing healthcare and education. 

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The Guardian: NSW push to stop climate protesters livestreaming on Facebook labelled ‘profoundly anti-democratic’

Civil liberties groups have lashed out at the New South Wales Labor government's attempts to prevent climate activists from live-streaming their protests on Facebook, The Guardian reports. 

The premier, Chris Minns, announced via the Daily Telegraph on Thursday that he would request a meeting with the social media giant, alongside police, to see what they can do to “stop the broadcast of illegal acts”.

The president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Josh Pallas, accused the premier of attempting to shut down freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

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SMH: NSW parliamentarians speak out at forum of anti-trans campaigners

On Thursday 22 June NSW parliament hosted a forum organised by the Liberal Democrat MP John Ruddick and emceed by failed federal Liberal candidate Katherine Deves. NSW parliamentarians have since been criticised for speaking at the forum of anti-trans campaigners held at Parliament House this week, including a government MP who labelled pushback against their campaigns as “totalitarian”, SMH's Michael McGowan reports. 

Josh Pallas, President of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, described some of the comments made at the forum as “harmful and discriminatory”, saying that the rhetoric of the anti-trans movement “increased the mental harm towards the trans community” at a time when the queer community was facing increased hostility.

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