The High Court ruled that the postal survey on marriage equality could go ahead. Participation in the survey is not compulsory and will not be binding on the parliament.

Content

  1. What happens next
  2. The challenge of civil debate
  3. Summary of the #DebateWithoutHate campaign
  4. Details of the #DebateWithoutHate campaign
  5. Signup to be involved or to be kept informed
  6. The reporting tool and the data we are gathering

Related articles

Please check back as this page will be repeatedly updated throughout the campaign.

What happens next

Between September 12th and September 25th the Australian Bureau of Statistics will sending survey papers to all Australians registered to vote. The public will be asked mail back their papers by October 27th. All papers received on or before November 7th will be counted towards the results.

The challenge of civil debate

There has already been a significant level of abuse as a result of the public debate on marriage equality.  This is reflected both online and in everyday life offline. Without recapping the many incidents that have already come to light, and are well reported in the media, it’s clear there is a significant problem and this debate has the potential to harm both individuals and cohesion in the community. This is no surprise as the same spikes of hate were seen in referenda overseas on this issue.

Now that national opinion is being canvassed on this question, regardless of the wisdom of doing so, it is essential that people’s right and ability to express their views and participate in the national discussion is facilitated and protected. This applies equally to people advocating on both sides of this question.  Our belief in democracy makes this essential. Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute explained, “We don’t have the same concept of freedom of speech as the US, we do have a constitutionally implied right to freedom of political communication which is designed to protect the expression of political ideas to ensure we have an informed electorate.”

Even freedom of political communication is, however, limited. Dr Oboler added, “the right to engage in debate does not give people a right to abuse others or incite hate against them. It does not make homophobia, religious vilification, incitement to violence or bullying of others acceptable. It does not give a license to spread lies or vilify segments of the community”. While we must have a full public debate, with many views expressed, this must occur in a civil manner, one in which people feel safe to express their views. If not then the fundamental reason for allowing freedom of political communication is itself undermined.

The #DebateWithoutHate Campaign

With growing concern about hate speech as a result of the current debate, particularly hate speech in discussions on social media, the Online Hate Prevention Institute is looking to rapidly put together a new campaign and actively welcomes support from people, organisations and groups regardless of their position on the current vote. Our campaign is simple. Let’s agree to debate without hate.

The principles of our campaign are:

  1. In Australia there is no place for speech that incites hate against individuals or groups in our community
  2. All Australians have the right to respectfully express their opinions in a national debate
  3. All information presented as fact, not opinion, should be accurate and verifiable

People and groups who support these principles are welcome to join the campaign. The campaign hashtag is #DebateWithoutHate

As time is short, please help us share news of the campaign: 


Details of the Campaign

We welcome support from those who agree to the campaign principles, again:

  1. In Australia there is no place for speech that incites hate against individuals or groups in our community
  2. All Australians have the right to respectfully express their opinions in a national debate
  3. All information presented as fact, not opinion, should be accurate and verifiable

In additional to individuals we welcome support from: campaign groups in the debate, charities / not-for-profits, companies, universities, schools, councils, political parties, politicians, media organisations and public figures.

The campaign will have the following elements:

  1. Providing an online reporting system (see more below) for hate speech against groups or individuals that occur during this debate
  2. Enable supporters (on both sides of the debate) to embed the reporting system on their website and Facebook pages
  3. Publish examples of the hate that is occurring against people and groups on all sides of the debate and explain where it crosses the line. We hope to create unity and counter division in the community by bringing people from both the “yes” and “no” side together to speak out against the same examples of hate.  To prevent further spreading hate all examples we publish will have any names of private people removed. Names may be included when they are elected officials, celebrities, public figures in the campaigns, where significant media coverage has already occurred or where the person wishes their name to be included.
  4. Provide statistics on the hate reported to help inform public policy and encourage a greater effort by all stakeholders to take the hate out of the public debate
  5. Campaign groups in the debate, charities / not-for-profits, companies, universities, schools, councils, political parties, politicians, media organisations and public figures who support the principles above may request to be publicly listed as supporters of the campaign
  6. The hashtag #DebateWithoutHate will be used to promote the campaign and as a reminder in online conversations of the campaign principles.

Additional information:

  • The archive of hate reported through the campaign may be made available to researchers to further understand this moment in Australian history. We may also make it available relevant government agencies to help understand this moment in Australian history and to better inform public policy for the future.
  • Data collected from the online reporting tool will be used in our articles discussing where content crosses the line and helping to create a more civil public debate. Some of the initial responses, some of which we had to moderate, can be seen in this article posted just a few hours after the campaign launched.
  • If you would like to be kept informed on this campaign, are a public figure or spokesperson able to comment on examples of hate that cross the line, or represent an organisation that wants to endorse our campaign, please complete the form below.
  • This campaign is supported by tax deductible public donations to the Online Hate Prevention Institute. If you can help, please donate here. Offers of sponsorship for this campaign are also welcome as is media interest – please contact us.

Comments on the campaign can be left in this Facebook thread. You can help spread the word by sharing this article if you didn’t do so above:  


Joining the campaign

Using the form below you can sign up to the campaign as an individual wanting information, a public person / spokesperson wanting to help with our commentary on the hate, or an organisation or public figure wanting to endorse the campaign.

The reporting tool

Reporting content will not remove it (please report it to Facebook / Twitter / YouTube as well if you feel it breaches their terms of service). It will, however, add the content to an archive demonstrating the hate this debate brought into the community. It will also give us examples to use in articles highlighting where discussion is going off the rails and what people should avoid doing and why. We aim to have public figures from both sides of the debate commenting on the same examples and agreeing where the line between civil debate and the spread of hate should be drawn. We hope this data will help inform future public policy so we can avoid or better manage national discussions in the future and prevent some of the harm this debate is causing. The full list of hate categories is listed below the reporting form, along with the link to the Facebook post discussing these categories.

The categories we are using:

  1. Attacking a group
    1. Homophobia / Transphobia
    2. Religious vilification
    3. Attacking one side of the debate
      1. Attacking people voting / campaigning for no
      2. Attacking an organisation campaigning for no
      3. Attacking people voting / campaigning for yes
      4. Attacking an organisation campaigning for yes
    4. Attacking a political party
    5. Racism against a specific group
    6. Attacking people in a certain age group
    7. Attacking people of a particular gender
    8. Attack another identifiable group in society
  2. Attacking an individual
    1. Attacking me
    2. Attacking someone I know
    3. Attacking a public figure / campaign activist
    4. Attacking someone else
  3. Spreading false information
    1. Content contains a link to misleading or deceptive information
    2. Content repeats information which is factually wrong

You can discuss these categories, and whether you feel anything is missing, in this Facebook thread.