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Austrlaian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in Parliament on March 21 that his government would move forward with plans to weaken the Racial Discrimination Act – 18C. The reason? According to Turnbull, it was an issue of values – free speech in particular. To point out just why weakening this legislation was a bad idea, people took to social media to cite racist incidents they had witnessed or were at the receiving end of. The hashtag they used, ironically, was #FreedomOfSpeech.

The hashtag was started by writer Benjamin Law on a day that is also celebrated across Australia as Harmony Day.

@mrbenjaminlaw: “To celebrate the Coalition tampering with the RDA on #HarmonyDay, let’s share stories of racism with hashtag #FreedomOfSpeech. I’ll start.”

@mrbenjaminlaw: “At the age of 10, I was at the local pool as a group of white boys held my head underwater, laughing at me for being Asian. #FreedomOfSpeech.”

Twitter users jumped at the opportunity and since then, these tweets have been read in Australia’s parliament by politicians opposing the government’s move.

@WBfromCanberra: “#FreedomOfSpeech #18C No Senator Brandis, the ANZACs didn’t fight and die for this country so you could use their name to peddle hate speech.”

@LukieSulz: “Ladies and Gentlemen, today the Australian liberal left, unironically and en masse, argued against #FreedomofSpeech.”

@Kon__K: “’I’m surprised you speak such good English.’

Me: I must have picked it up while completing one of my 6 degrees #FreedomofSpeech”

@AETLCEWA: “After taxi ride full of racist comments, I tucked my 6year old in bed. He asked me, ‘What’s wrong with us? Why do they hate us?’ #FreedomofSpeech.”

@becyyboo: “When I was 6 years old, a white boy told me to go back to where I come from. I’m Aboriginal. Not very bright these racists #freedomofspeech”

@sharnatweets: “A woman on my bus told a young couple to “speak english or go back where they came from”. They were speaking Pitjantjatjara #FreedomofSpeech”

@matthewhayden: “#Racism a curse of human race. All races capable of it. If you think only one race guilty you are, well, a bit racist. #freedomofspeech”

@ihurenamugongo: “#FreedomOfSpeech to tell our stories of racism in Australia? I could write a book on my experiences. A few tweets will not suffice!”

@CapesJoy: “Also rich colonial white supremacists leading a stolen black country. That’s my #FreedomofSpeech! @MalcomTurnbull1 @SenBrandis.”

@OmarjSakr: “I’ve been called a terrorist too many times to count. I’ve been stopped by cops + other authorities too many times to count #FreedomofSpeech.”

@OmarjSakr: “The overt effect of racist speech is to make you feel lesser. Less “normal”. Less loved. Less equal. Less able. Less human. #FreedomofSpeech.”

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Senator Scott Ludlam

21 March at 06:20 ·

Antarctic ice sheets are melting rapidly. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

Young people are being locked out of the housing market and locked in to a future where their every dissenting move is monitored by the state in their warming world.

But this government is steadfastly committed to ensuring we’ll all be able to say the N word, whatever happens.

Lebanese Muslim Association

In light of discussions around 18C and racism, here is just a taste of some of the hateful comments we receive on a regular basis. #18C #harmonyday #freedomofspeech

The Real Tracey Spicer

Nova Peris posted this on twitter today with the hashtag #freedomofspeech - says it all. Some Harmony Day.

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor