Australian site told to remove racial content

Human rights commission shuts down site containing dubious material about the Holocaust

In an Australian first, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has ordered a South Australian publication to remove racially offensive material from its Web site.

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

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

Acting race discrimination commissioner Dr Bill Jonas welcomed the decision.

"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 Commission found that the Adelaide Institute Web site contained material on the Holocaust which was not of an historical, intellectual or scientific standard.

"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 Web site and not republish its contents in public elsewhere.

She also determined that Dr Toben should make a written statement of apology to members of the Jewish Community in Australia, to appear on the home page of the Web site, for "having published materials inciting hatred against the Jewish people".

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