Fresh anti-vilification laws cannot be rushed: premier
The expansion of anti-vilification laws to more marginalised groups won't be rushed despite Victoria confronting a fresh wave of hate towards transgender people.
The Victorian Greens on Tuesday introduced a bill to state parliament to change the laws to cover vilification on the basis of sexuality and gender.
Under the legislation, it would also be made unlawful to vilify someone because of their HIV/AIDS status, for being intersex or having a disability.
Existing laws only protect Victorians from racial and religious vilification.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he would not be lectured on trans support by the Greens, after hundreds of its members last year accused the party hierarchy of promoting trans-exclusionary views.
"But we should try and find common ground," he told reporters.
"When you write laws like this, the last thing you want to do is rush it and have a situation where the very people that you're trying to deal with have a big win by taking those laws to court."
In 2021, the Andrews government offered in-principle support for extending anti-vilification laws following a parliamentary inquiry.
It recommended protections be broadened to cover other forms of vilification, including on the basis of gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, disability, HIV/AIDS status or personal association.
Earlier this month, Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes told parliament she would have further announcements on anti-vilification laws at the end of the year and set an 18-month timeline for new legislation.
Victorian Greens LGBTQI spokeswoman Gabrielle de Vietri said the government was leaving the queer community exposed to increasingly emboldened far-right groups.
"They need protections right now, and I would be loath to think the premier is holding off these reforms just because the Greens have asked for them," she said.
A motion to debate the bill in the lower house was blocked before the legislation was moved in the upper house, where the government does not have a majority.
Violent clashes erupted between neo-Nazi demonstrators, counter-protesters and police outside state parliament on Saturday during an anti-immigration rally.
The same group of black-clad men performed the Nazi salute at an anti-trans protest in March, and a local Melbourne council was this month forced to cancel a drag story time event after being targeted with violent threats.
Victoria banned the public display of the swastika last year and is moving to do the same with the Nazi salute.