Major fines imposed for those who break new same-sex ad laws

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 13 September 2017

The Federal Government and Labor have agreed on new temporary laws to safeguard against hate speech during the same-sex marriage postal survey.

The law will restrict content published by the Yes and No campaigns and apply until mid-November.

It includes measures to prevent vilification, intimidation and/or threats that cause harm on the basis of the sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or the religious convictions of someone during the survey period.

Anyone found to have breached those provisions could be hit with a $12,600 fine and a court injunction.

The Law Council of Australia is warning that people or groups who fail to correctly authorise offensive material during the same-sex marriage debate face more than $25,000 in fines.

Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said campaign advertising must identify who is responsible for content or face a civil penalty.

Posters carrying the slogan 'Stop the Fags' and homosexuality is a 'curse of death' have also been distributed across Australia in recent weeks. Just yesterday, Junkee managing editor Rob Stott received collateral from the No campaign.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten predicted the debate would spew "hurtful filth" as the postal vote is not held to the same standards as an official election and the Advertising Standards Bureau does not review plebiscite advertising.

Public broadcasters such as the ABC and SBS are required to give "reasonable opportunities to broadcast opposing views".

The Government wants the safeguards to pass Parliament this week, as close to 600,000 survey forms have already been mailed to homes across Australia.

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