Australia Picked “Harmony Day” To Debate Overhauling The Country’s Race Hate Laws

I’m screaming.

Years of debate, led by conservatives within the Liberal party, over watering down Australia’s race hate laws comes to a head today.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

But what is today?

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE


Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

It’s also known as “Harmony Day” in Australia, which according to the government is a “celebration of our cultural diversity – a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home”.

Today the Coalition partyroom will reportedly debate taking out the words “insult, offend and humiliate” from the Racial Discrimination Act’s section 18C and replacing them with the word “harass”.

The proposal has vocal support among the party’s far right, but many Liberal moderates who represent marginal seats with large ethnic communities are very worried.

Even if the changes pass the House of Representatives (there’s reportedly been talk of Liberal MPs crossing the floor to vote against them), key Senate crossbencher Nick Xenophon has suggested he won’t support it.

Without Xenophon and his team of senators, the 18C changes are doomed to fail.

Regardless, at least all this vigorous and spirited debate will be happening today.


It's Harmony Day + the parliament is debating whether to make laws preventing racially motivated hate speech a bit…

— Jamila Rizvi (@JamilaRizvi)

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Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
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