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Senate passes protection bill around marriage equality campaigning

The Senate has passed laws which will see same-sex marriage campaigners fined up to $9,514.20 for any conduct which vilifies, intimidates or threatens people for their stance on the postal survey or based on their religious convictions, gender identity, intersex status or sexual orientation.

The laws also provide protections for both sides of the debate, noting those who want a particular outcome from the survey cannot be denied membership to a union, club or body and must be allowed to continue employment.

However, the protection laws are only temporary with a limitation period beginning the day the act commences and ending on November 15 or the day the Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes the result of the survey.

The temporary laws will cover all campaign material, meaning tweets and speeches could be included and will see people fined a maximum of 60 penalty units.

Those reporting news, presenting current affairs or editorial content in the media responsibly and in good faith will be exempt from the laws.

The laws do not apply to satirical, academic or artistic work however commercial broadcasters will be subject to the fair and accurate reporting provisions of the Broadcasting Act with the ABC and SBS required to follow ‘similar obligations’.

The bill states:
(1) “After this section commences, a person (the first person) must not vilify, intimidate or threaten to cause harm to another person or persons if the first person engaged in the conduct that vilified, intimidated or threatened the other person or persons because of any of the following:

                     (a)  the other person or persons have expressed or hold a view in relation to the marriage law survey question;

                     (b)  the first person believes that the other person or persons hold a view in relation to the marriage law survey question;

                     (c)  the religious conviction, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status of the other person or persons.”

” (2) A person must not discriminate against another person on the ground of the making by the other person of a donation to a notifying entity :

                     (a)  by denying the other person access to membership of any trade union, club or other body; or

                     (b)  by not allowing the other person to work or to continue to work; or

                     (c)  by subjecting the other person to any form of intimidation, coercion or other detriment that causes, was likely to cause, or could be reasonably expected to cause, serious harm to the other person.”

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