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You could be fined over $12,000 during the same-sex marriage survey

Meka Beresford September 12, 2017
March for same-sex marriage in Sydney

(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Australians could face a fine of up to $12,600 if they are found to be “vilifying” or “intimidating” someone because of their sexual orientation or religious convictions during the same-sex marriage postal survey.

The Coalition Government proposed the temporary laws which will help regulate the Yes and No campaigns until the survey finishes in mid-November.

The postal survey had received criticism from LGBT+ activists because it was being held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which is not subject to normal campaigning laws.

The temporary laws include measures to stop “vilification, intimidation, or threatening to cause harm on the basis of the sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or religious conviction” of an individual.

It is hoped that the laws will be pushed through Parliament by the end of the week as the campaigns have already started and over 600,000 ballots have been mailed out so far.

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Opposition party Labor, led by Bill Shorten, has not yet agreed to the laws which will need to be approved by Attorney-General George Brandis.

As well as stopping hate speech during the campaigns, Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann who is overseeing the survey said that he hopes it will minimise the number of civil lawsuits.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus confirmed that Labor was in the final stages of negotiations before the laws go to Parliament.

Dreyfus said: “The primary thing we have said, right from the start, is that there should be anti-vilification provisions.

“The Government seems to be willing to include in the safeguard bill those provisions, we are just working through the final details.”

However, some politicians have opposed the measures including Liberal MP James Paterson.

Paterson said that he does not believe the survey should have stricter rules than a general election.

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Some LGBT+ activists fear that the safeguard won’t do enough to protect people during the survey.

Tiernan Brady is a marriage equality advocate and director of the Equality Campaign. He told News Corp that the measures would not rule out homophobic but hopefully would make way for a respectful debate.

“Most of the vulgar and vicious things are not said through any particular person but on anonymous leaflets,” he said. “We know in reality that will continue.”

“Whatever guidelines are put in place, it’s behoven on each and every one of us to set the respectful tone that we seek.”

Many feared that the survey would become a “hate speech bonanza” as campaign laws don’t apply.

Labor previously pledged to back legislation put forward by Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann which would force the Bureau to abide by the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which prohibits the use of any malicious or deceptive material.

They made the pledge on the condition that lawmakers are able to see it before supporting it.

More: Australia, Australia, equal marriage, fine, LGBT, marriage survey, postal survey, same sex marriage

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