Standing Firm Against Racial Discrimination

31 March 2017
Standing Firm Against Racial Discrimination

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has welcomed the Senate’s decision not to change the Racial Discrimination Act.

“I applaud this decision, which sends a clear message that racist behaviour and racial discrimination are not acceptable in Australian society,” said Mr McMillan.

“The outcome of this vote is a reminder to those who pushed for these changes that Australians value harmony and inclusion much more than the abstract right of some people in media and politics to insult or offend people, who in most cases have little or no capacity to defend themselves.”

In a recent submission to the Federal Government, the Uniting Church argued the proposed changes to Section 18C to replace the words "insult", "offend" and "humiliate" with "harass" could lead to more public expression of overt prejudice.

The attempt to amend Section 18C of the Act was lost in the Senate by 31 votes to 28.

National Director for Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry Rev. Dr Apwee Ting said the vote to keep 18C reflected the view of a majority of Australians who value cultural diversity.

“Thank you to the Senators who voted down this legislation,” said Rev. Dr Ting.

“Hate speech and racism are a reality for many culturally diverse Australians. Racial insults and discrimination takes a significant toll on the health and wellbeing of those who experience them.”

“In the Uniting Church we celebrate our diversity of races, cultures, and languages as God’s gracious gift and we condemn all forms of racism.”

“Confirming the legal protections against these attacks is so important, because it will give more people the confidence to speak out when they are subjected to abuse.”