What is Vilification?

In NSW the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 says Vilification is:

A public act that incites:

  • Hatred;
  • Serious contempt;
  • Severe ridicule.

Towards people because of their:

  • Race;
  • Homosexuality (lesbian or gay);
  • HIV/AIDS status;
  • Transgender status.

Vilification can also occur because someone is thought to:

  • Be of a particular race;
  • Be homosexual (lesbian or gay);
  • Have HIV/AIDs status;
  • Have transgender status.

"Public acts" include:

- Communications that can be seen or heard by the public (this includes print, radio, video or online)

- Signs flags or clothing that could be seen by the public

- Distributing and sharing information publicly

  1. Only public acts are covered. Could someone who was not directly involved be capable of seeing, hearing or reading it?
  2. Was it serious enough to have incited hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule? Would other people be affected by it?
  3. Was it legal because it was an acceptable type of free speech?

    Examples of acceptable free speech are:

    • Privileged statements made in parliament;
    • A fair report by the media of someone else’s act of vilification;
    • Acts done reasonably and in good faith for academic, artistic or scientific research purposes in the public interest.

  1. Try to speak to the person or organisation causing the problem.
  2. Get support from a community organisation
  3. Get legal advice.  For legal help Phone 1300 888 529

    Legal Aid NSW Logo


    Community Legal Centres NSW

  4. Contact Anti-Discrimination NSW:
    1. To make an enquiry on their free, confidential enquiry telephone service:


    2. You can contact them to make a complaint:

      Complaints must be made in writing. The complaint form is found here.

  1. A person who has the characteristic or is from the group you think has been vilified; or
  2. A representative community group making a complaint on behalf of an individual. (Note:the individual who experienced vilification must be named in the complaint and it must be clear they consent to the complaint being made in this way).

Anti-Discrimination NSW can only accept a complaint if the vilification occurred within 12 months before they receive the complaint.