Changes to Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination laws have been debated

Debate: Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O'Connor has debated against changes to the state's Anti-Discrimination Act.

Debate: Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O'Connor has debated against changes to the state's Anti-Discrimination Act.

Members of Parliament have shared personal accounts of discrimination during debate over proposed changes to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act. 

Amendments to the Act would require the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to reject a complaint if it could not have been predicted an act would cause offence.  

The changes would also permit the use of religion as a defence for expressing certain views.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor called on the government to provide an example of the kind of speech religious groups felt they could not express under current law and highlighted the high rate of suicide within the LGBTI community. 

Bass Greens MHA Andrea Dawkins said her young daughter was once told by a 13 year-old boy that two gay men she was living with deserved to be killed. 

“This bill sends a message to the parents of that young man and young people like him that it’s okay to talk like that,” Ms Dawkins said.

“I just hope that if this bill passess common sense comes through because I don’t believe it always will.” 

Leader of Government Business Michael Ferguson said the amendments would create balance between offering protection from discrimination and allowing respectful public debate. 

Braddon Liberal MHA Joan Rylah compared the bill to pattern-making and said it aimed to make laws around free speech more concise. 

“To create a particular shape or character one needs to know what you are doing,” Ms Rylah said.  

“If the understanding and process is not clear, you can create a mess that does not work, is not effective- it fails.” 

Franklin Labor MHA Lara Giddings said the debate marked a “shameful” day for Parliament.

She said the changes would benefit people at the extreme end of debates, who will think they have been given the green light to express their views. 

She said the LGBTI community would be at risk of attacks based on faith, rather than fact. 

“When [an argument is] not factually based, how can you win? You can’t,” Ms Giddings said. 

“Your only choice is to stand up and fight every day and become oppressed.” 

Premier Will Hodgman said it was unfair to allow exemptions for views expressed with artistic, academic and scientific purpose but not those based on faith. 

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