Statement: Decision on QUT 18C case

In regard to the Federal Court decision to strike out the Section 18C case involving three QUT students, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein has made the following statement:

“The finding appears to be the latest in a line of judgements upholding the view that Section 18C applies to ‘profound and serious effects’ and not ‘mere slights’ – thus again demonstrating the falsity of the hysterical claims increasingly being heard that 18C makes it illegal to merely make someone feel offended.

“Especially at a time when xenophobia in Australia is rising, this legal provision continues to be essential in helping to maintain social cohesion while providing victims of racism with a just method for seeking redress where they have been the target of racial vilification – and contains ample exemptions under 18D so that it does not appreciably limit either the right to free speech or democratic debate.

“However we do note the concerns raised by a number of Government MPs and commentators regarding the effectiveness of the current process for conciliating complaints under Section 18C as undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission, something that we agree may require further consideration and review.”