Greek Community of Melbourne Reacts to Section 18c of Racial Discrimination Act

The Greek Community of Melbourne has reacted to the proposed changes to Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act with the following press release issued on Wednesday March 22:

“The Greek Community of Victoria objects to the proposed changes by the Federal Government to Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The changes appear to be legally unsound, morally wrong and we trust that the Senate will not support this backward step.

We trust that the political mechanisms will seek to reflect the broader interests of Australia and not these sectarian obsessions.”

The press release is followed by a short note entitled ABOUT THE GREEK COMMUNITY

“The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM – also known as the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne & Victoria) was established in 1897 and operates as the peak Greek organisation in Melbourne, considered widely to be the third largest Greek speaking city in the world.

The GCM is a key provider of Greek language and social programs including Ancient Greek and Alphington Grammar School and delivers key cultural activities including the Lonsdale St Greek Festival (Antipodes), the Greek Film Festival and the Flavours of Greece project. The GCM is based in the 15 level Greek Centre in Lonsdale Street Melbourne and is an active advocate for its Greek and multicultural constituents.”

Section 18C was added to the Racial Discrimination Act in 1995 and makes it illegal to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the basis of a person’s race.

The government has backed changes to retain the offense of “intimidate” on the basis of race, but replace the words “insult,” “offend” and “humiliate” with “harass.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claims changes would strengthen the law instead of undermining it. However, he is accused of caving in to pressure from the right wing of the Liberal Party.