The effects of civil hate speech laws: lessons from Australia
Link to publisher version (URL)
This article examines the effects of hate speech laws in Australia. Triangulating data from primary and secondary sources, we examine five hypothesized effects: whether the laws provide a remedy to targets of hate speech, encourage more respectful speech, have an educative or symbolic effect, have a chilling effect, or create “martyrs.” We find the laws provide a limited remedy in the complaints mechanisms, provide a framework for direct community advocacy, and that knowledge of the laws exists in public discourse. However, the complaints mechanism imposes a significant enforcement burden on targeted communities, who still regularly experience hate speech. We find a reduction in the expression of prejudice in mediated outlets, but not on the street. We find no evidence of a chilling effect and we find the risk of free speech martyrs to be marginal. We draw out the implications of these findings for other countries.