Monday, August 30, 2010

"Religious Vilification Laws: Quelling Fires of Hatred?"

Dermot Feenan, Religious Vilification Laws: Quelling Fires of Hatred?, 31 Alternative L.J. 153 (2006).

Feenan's paper adds to the debate over the religious vilification laws which exist in three Australian states. With a primary focus on Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the subsequent Catch the Fire Ministries case, the article suggests that religious vilification laws may be over-broad. As Feenan explains,

"The danger in framing religious vilification as a wrong lies partly in the fact that it may capture views which represent legitimate disagreements about the appropriateness of different religious beliefs or practices. Arguably, the inclusion in the Act of the words 'serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule' of another person or class of persons on the ground of religious belief or activity may be infringed by the trenchant condemnation of beliefs or practices on which people may reasonably take opposing views." (p. 156)

The article provides a brief summary of some international human rights instruments and cases on balancing freedom of expression with other values. It also mentions England's recent "religious hatred" law and suggests that it is narrower in scope than Victoria's religious vilification laws because it limits itself to "threatening" words or behaviour. (p. 157)

No comments:

Post a Comment