Maurice Blackburn to provide pro bono advice in vilification cases from same-sex marriage plebiscite
13 September 2016
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ social justice practice will provide pro bono advice in cases of vilification that stem from next year’s same-sex marriage plebiscite, the firm has announced today.
Maurice Blackburn Principal Kamal Farouque said the firm held deep concerns about the impacts of any same-sex marriage plebiscite for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) community, particularly in relation to potential vilification that may ensue during the campaign.
“Our firm remains a strong supporter of same-sex marriage in Australia and we also remain firmly of the view that the best way to achieve this is through a free vote in the Parliament,” Mr Farouque said.
“Like many people across Australia, we have genuine concerns about the potential divisiveness of such a plebiscite. While we hope it does not come to this, we are concerned at the very real possibility that a plebiscite will fuel hostile and unacceptable behaviour towards the LGBTI community.
“With the Federal government now confirming the date and funding for a plebiscite our firm is today again re-affirming our commitment to stand with the LGBTI community, including offering pro bono legal advice to people who have clearly suffered some form of vilification.
“In some states and territories, there are laws which prohibit vilification on grounds of sexuality. Some people may think that the plebiscite will give them cover to engage in acts of vilification, but such vilification may breach these state and territory laws.
“This will include instances of vilification in the workplace, in public places, in obtaining goods and services and in sporting and other clubs.
“The LGBTI community have already had to endure too many years of vilification, when all they are seeking is equality.
“As Australians, we can be better than this. Our firm is proud to continue to stand with the LGBTI community in pushing for equal rights under the law for all,” he said.