Australia Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm wants to stop games being banned

Australian Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has introduced a private members bill to “remove the government’s power to ban publications, films and computer games based solely on the grounds that they might offend against standards of morality, decency and propriety.”

In a post on Medium, Senator Leyomhjelm said that the Government’s current powers to ban films and games “is an excessive restriction on what adults can read, watch, play and listen to.”

Senator Leyonhjelm’s Bill will not remove restrictions for depictions of child sex or incite/instructing on crimes.

Australian Video Game Bans

The most recent example of a game being banned in Australia is We Happy Few. Originally refused classification in May due to the game’s depictions of drug use.

The decision was overturned on appeal, but the original decision was based on the guidelines that;

Computer games that:
(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults 

Computer Games will be Refused Classification if they include or contain “drug use related to
incentives and rewards

Senator Leyonhjelm’s bill is an attempt to prevent these kinds of bans occurring simply because something may offend. According to Senator Leyonhjelm;

Freedom of speech is fundamental to our democratic society and this freedom is precious. It is our right, not something conferred on us at the whim of government.

In addition, Senator Leyonhjelm’s states that “Feeling insulted or offended is a subjective feeling that can vary enormously between individuals and for which nobody else is responsible.” In this way, he is seeking to prevent the banning of material that might offend some people, but not others.

In addition to the Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment (Censorship) Bill 2018Senator Leyonhjelm has introduced two additional bills; Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment (Security) Bill 2018 and Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment (Insult and Offend) Bill 2018.

The former is designed to “remove bans on journalists reporting, and the general public discussing, the operations of security agencies unless such communications endanger someone’s health or safety.” 

The latter will “amend 23 existing Acts to remove bans on speech that someone finds insulting or offensive.”

Senator Leyonhjelm has made headlines recently for his statement made to Greens Senator Sarah-Hanson Young. On June 28 it was reported that Senator Leyonhjelm had told Senator Hanson-Young that she should “stop shagging men” during a debate about women’s safety.

Senator Leyonhjelm later doubled down on the comments in an interview on the ABC.

I am opposed to misandry just as I am opposed to misogyny and I am also entitled to call out double standards.

So arguing on the one hand that all men are evil, the enemy, rapists, sexual predators and on the other hand having a normal relationships with men obviously is contradictory and I can call it out.

Senator Leyonhjelm has refused to apologise for the comments. Senator Hanson-Young has confirmed she will sue Senator Leyonhjelm.

At this stage, it’s not clear how the Bills will fare, whether they will face opposition, amendments or whether they will be supported. 

From Senator Leyonhjelm’s Medium piece;

Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment (Censorship) Bill 2018

This focusses on the freedom to receive communications.

  • Removes bans on publications, films and computer games that offend against standards of morality, decency and propriety
  • No change to the ban on publications, films and computer games that promote, incite or instruct in crime, or that portray children engaged in sexual activity
  • Removes X18+ bans for subscription broadcasting, datacasting and online content, provided that access is restricted by way of disabling devices (eg PIN access)
  • Removes a ban on broadcasting electoral advertising on election day or on the preceding Thursday or Friday
  • Removes the ban on pornography in designated parts of the Northern Territory, where the pornography is legally available elsewhere in Australia.

This post has been edited to add context.

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Leo Stevenson
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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