The Supreme Court has rejected a claim by the Australian Federal Police that the clothing of a group of Aboriginal Australians could be seen as racially offensive.
The High Court has dismissed an application by the AFP to challenge a claim that the clothes of the Australian Indigenous group, the Aboriginal People’s Commission (APC), can be seen to be racially offensive because of the colour of their clothing.
Key points:The court said the clothes could be viewed as offensive to Aboriginal people and could therefore be bannedThe court also said the AFP’s claim that a “significant number” of the group’s clothing was “racist” could be dismissedIn a judgment published today, the High Court dismissed the AFP application, saying it was not “possible to say with any certainty” whether the clothes would be seen by some as “racist”.
The AFP argued that the group was “entirely free to wear whatever clothing they chose” and that the APC could wear whatever they wanted, including “ethnic or racial symbols”.
The High Council of Aboriginal Peoples, which represented the group, said in a statement that it “respects the court’s decision”.
“We respect the court decision to dismiss the AFP case,” a spokesman said.
“We hope this will serve as a reminder that the AFP is entitled to pursue its lawful investigation of this matter without fear of being prosecuted.”
The APC have said they are not aware of any official complaints of racial vilification or discrimination made to the AFP.
“The court noted that the majority of the clothing worn by the APCs was “racially neutral” and said the clothing did not “reflect an intention to cause offence”.
The case arose in 2014, when the AFP sought to enforce the Australian Racial Discrimination Act (ARDA) against the group after it had refused to wear a dress for a charity event, even though the group said it wanted to wear one.
The group claimed that wearing the dress would have been offensive to “indigenous Australians”.
The court ruled in favour of the AFP in July 2016, ruling that the dress did not contravene the ARDA.
The APCs clothing, including hats and jackets, were not designed to be “racial or offensive” and were not intended to be seen “by some as racially insensitive or offensive”.
The decision came as the AFP attempted to launch a criminal investigation into the group.
The AFP said it had “detailed concerns about the appropriateness” of some of the clothes worn by APCs.
It is believed that the Australian Aboriginal People´s Commission (AAPC) were the only group of Indigenous people to wear any clothing of the “race-specific” variety, according to the court.
The case was the second time the AFP had sought to bring charges against the APCI after the Supreme Court had ruled against the AFP over its “racist clothing” case in 2016.
Topics:law-crime-and-justice,government-and/or-politics,offbeat,racial-disparities,australia,aussies,nsw,sydney-2000,brisbane-4000,qldFirst posted April 20, 2021 18:59:50Contact John Mertz