Catch that


Offence is taken not given

Saying anything which may be interpreted as offending a person because of gender, sexual orientation or other listed attributes is illegal under the Act (section 16)– but it’s perfectly alright to offend a person because of their religious beliefs.
Under Section 17
Archbishop Porteous, Senator Chandler and others have had to appear before the Anti-Discrimination Commission for innocent statements about the Christian view of marriage and the protection of female athletes.
If we are to have such a section in our laws, it is fair enough that it covers humiliation, intimidation, insults, and ridicule because they are words or activities coming from and under the control of the humiliator, intimidator, insulter, or ridiculer.  But offence is something that is taken, not given with intent or having knowledge of, or anticipated circumstances that would cause offence.
People take offence. Whether a person does so or not, is up to them, not up to the “assumed offender”.
You may be aware of cases in the public domain where a person has ‘taken offence’ at what was intended as a satirical comment, or at comments fairly made in public discourse, but which do not amount to humiliation, intimidation, an insult or ridicule.
Too often, the threat of people being ‘offended’ is used to stifle or cancel discussion of legitimate issues of public concern. In the interests of free speech section 17(1) should be amended

Section 17 must be amended to ensure that “offence” is not a legal basis to make speech or conduct illegal.
Here are the simple – but necessary – changes to the legislation that are required:
 – Delete the word “offend”
– Make it clear that the law does not apply to private conversations
– Provide a broad exception for “bona fide religious discussion or speech”