Free Speech-Threatening 'Anti-Discrimination' Law Abandoned by Australian Government

Another close call


The Gillard government has put its plans to overhaul anti-discrimination laws on hold as Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus concedes the proposed laws may not have struck the right balance.

But while the government is reconsidering its broader discrimination law changes, it will push ahead this week with a separate bill to protect Australians on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Last year Mr Dreyfus's predecessor, Nicola Roxon, proposed a draft bill that she argued would merge and simplify five existing anti-discrimination laws, including the racial and sex discrimination acts.

But critics including the opposition and business groups argued the changes went beyond simply consolidating the previously separate laws, including shifting the burden of proof to the person accused of discrimination and potentially restricting "offensive" speech.