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'White male' complains to rights watchdog

AAP logoAAP 15/08/2016 By Lisa Martin

David Leyonhjelm is not offended at being labelled an "angry white male" but that hasn't stopped him making a complaint to the human rights watchdog about how he was described by a prominent newspaper reporter.

The Liberal Democrats senator will use a section of the Racial Discrimination Act - which makes it illegal to offend, insult or humiliate a person on the grounds of race - he proposes to ask parliament to scrap.

If he succeeds in his quest to repeal Section 18c of the Act, Fairfax journalist Mark Kenny would be free to insult him as much as he wants, Senator Leyonhjelm says

Kenny, in an opinion piece dripping with irony, described the senator as "a boorish, supercilious know-all with the empathy of a besser block".

He was also "wacky", "gormless" with "angry-white-male certitude" in his crusade against the section.

The senator insists he is not offended but his complaint is intended to demonstrate that "this particular law is absurd".

"Under the Act, Mr Kenny's article is unlawful because his article was reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people on the basis of their colour," he said.

"Assuming the adjudicators at the Human Rights Commission are guided by the law and not racists, I anticipate the complaint should succeed."

Labor is not interested in watering down hate speech laws.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten blamed a renewed debate on coalition conservatives trying to prove their tough stance on removing 18c before outspoken One Nation senator Pauline Hanson gets into parliament.

"Labor won't be horse-trading its principles," Mr Shorten told reporters in Brisbane.

"With Labor, what you see is what you get, and we will stand up for protection for people against hate speech."

Liberal senator Eric Abetz later labelled the phrase "angry white male" racist terminology.

"It seems passing strange that in our society you can use that sort of racist terminology and it doesn't seem to excite the interest of the Human Rights Commission," he told Sky News on Monday evening.

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