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The government will introduce legislation that makes it illegal to vilify, intimidate or threaten harm against people on the basis of them being LGBTI or having religious convictions, as part of its same-sex marriage postal survey.
The law would mean people who engage in such behaviour could be slapped with a $ 12,600 fine.
The legislation, which was approved by the Coalition party room on Tuesday, will also include elements of the protections in the Electoral Act, which dictate all campaign material must be authorised.
It will protect people from being vilified, intimidated or threatened with harm on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, or religious conviction, or because of views they hold on the survey.
People wanting to pursue a complaint in the Federal Court must get the approval of attorney-general George Brandis, who will have the final say on whether any actions proceed.
Finance minister Mathias Cormann told the party room meeting that he expected Brandis would approach the task with “a bias towards freedom of speech”.
The bill will have a sunset provision, lasting only for the period of the postal survey. The civil sanctions attached to the bill are 60 civil penalty units, which amount to $ 12,600.
The government plans to pass the bill through the parliament by the end of the week.
The news of the vilification protections come against a backdrop of significant, often ugly, back and forth between the two sides in the same-sex marriage debate.
On Tuesday, 14-year-old Eddie Blewett, who has two mothers, stood up with Labor leader Bill Shorten and deputy Tanya Plibersek to talk about the debate's impact on him.
“People who know my family know that there's nothing wrong with us,” the teenager told a large media pack on the front lawns of parliament house.
“We play soccer in the winter, we volunteer at the surf club in the summer. I have two parents. They love me and they love each other. All couples and all families deserve the same respect and value. Twelve months ago I came here. Nothing has changed. Marriage equality is still unresolved. I feel like people aren't going to vote. I feel like they're going to throw their ballot papers in the bin. I also want to thank all those people who tried to keep this in the parliament. People are saying stuff about my family. They are saying that they're not normal. They are saying that they're second rate. Don't listen. Be yourself. Vote yes.”
Speaking to Sky News yesterday, former resources minister Matthew Canavan dismissed mental health concerns for the LGBTI community in the marriage debate, advising them to instead “grow a spine”.
“Let's stop being delicate little flowers and have a proper debate,” he said.
Shorten suggested that Canavan might be dismissing discrimination against LGBTI people because he had not experienced something similar.
“People who might never have felt discrimination seem to be able to dismiss the slights of discrimination on the behalf of others who receive it, just a bit casually,” Shorten said.
He said the LGBTI community had been forced into becoming a “talking point” as a result of the survey.