The new VEOHRC chairperson John Searle has spoken out against racial vilification, making reference to racial vilification legislation and stating that a placard portraying a swastika “represented a disgraceful and outrageous threat.”
Will Searle be as strident in his response to equivalent vilification on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity as he is to vilification on the grounds of race? He has a concerning record of ignoring the former when presented with it, claiming that by not giving it oxygen it will go away. He told me that in his house in August 2009.
On the basis of his aforementioned logic, Searle should be ignoring this anti-Jewish swastika-ridden placard, because in doing so the hate should magically vanish if ignored.
Searle has adopted an Orwellian approach to vilification – that all vilification is unacceptable, just that some vilification is more unacceptable. He is wrong. All vilification is equally unacceptable. All vilification needs to be stamped out, not by ignoring it, but by exposing it and eradicating it.
It is imperative for Searle to adopt the approach that no vilification is acceptable and to guide the VEOHRC to speak out strongly against discrimination and vilification on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Victoria. Is Searle willing to go this far for all Victorians?