What does the law say?

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 makes racial discrimination and racial hatred unlawful in public places.

It protects everyone in Australia from discrimination based on race and guarantees that everyone enjoys equality before the law, regardless of their racial background. Areas where racial discrimination is specifically unlawful include:

  • access to places and facilities;
  • land, housing and accommodation;
  • the provision of goods and services;
  • joining a trade union;
  • employment; and
  • advertisements.

The Racial Discrimination Act also makes it unlawful to do an act that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person or group because of their race. Examples of racial hatred include:

  • racially offensive material on the internet;
  • racially offensive comments or images in a newspaper;
  • racially offensive comments in a public place; and
  • racially offensive speeches at a public rally.

The Racial Discrimination Act does, however, protect freedom of expression that relates to public discussion, artistic work, fair comment and reporting – provided it is done reasonably and in good faith.

See further information about the Racial Discrimination Act.