10 October 2000

No place for racial hatred on the Internet

Commissioner Kathleen McEvoy has declared that the Adelaide Institute should remove offensive material based on racial hatred from its website.

Commissioner McEvoy found that the Adelaide Institute had breached section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act by publishing material on the website, the consequences of which were 'vilificatory, bullying, insulting and offensive' to the Jewish population.

The decision challenges the Internet's potential as a conduit of extremist views and paves the way to limit it as an avenue for promoting bigotry and intolerance.

Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Bill Jonas welcomed the decision. He said: "The benefits society enjoys from modern technology should never be undermined by the use of that same technology for racial vilification or other forms of racist communication".

"In public discourse there is a need to balance rights and responsibilities, for example, balancing the right to freedom of speech and political communication with the right to freedom from racial vilification. It is never appropriate to victimise people of a certain race in the name of freedom of speech."

The decision found that the Adelaide Institute website contained material on "the Holocaust", none of which was of an historical, intellectual or scientific standard that was persuasive on these issues. The main purpose of the publication of the material was the humiliation and denigration of Jewish people.

Commissioner McEvoy determined that Dr Fredrick Toben should remove the contents of the Adelaide Institute website from the World Wide Web and not republish its contents in public elsewhere. She also determined that Dr Toben should make a written statement of apology to Mr Jeremy Jones and members of the Jewish Community in Australia, to appear on the home page of the Adelaide Institute website, for "having published materials inciting hatred against the Jewish people".

The decision follows the recent "Scully" case in which Commissioner Anthony Cavanough QC found that Mrs Olga Scully had distributed offensive anti-Semitic literature in Launceston, Tasmania. Mrs Scully was told to apologise to the complainants and stop selling or offering the material.

Media contact: Janine MacDonald (02) 9284 9880 or 0412 783 631

© Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Last updated 2 December 2001.
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