Is it Illegal to Wear a ‘F**k Tony Abbott’ T-shirt?

Despite hundreds of people wearing T-shirts with the slogan ‘F**k Tony Abbott’ at today’s March in March protest, police appeared to select just one protestor who they asked to remove the T-shirt or be arrested.

After a prolonged discussion with officers the man removed his shirt. Just metres away another protestor wearing an identical shirt was not approached by officers.

Police previously asked protestors at a marriage equality rally in November 2013 to remove their shirts. On that occasion protestors refused and the police backed down.

Following the November incident OUTinPerth asked WA Police to clarify what section of the law was being broken by wearing the T-shirts. Despite requesting the information in November, WA Police were unable to clarify which section of the law applied until January 15th 2014.

WA’s Police Minister Liza Harvey has subsequently backed up the officers interpretation of the law saying protestors were breaking Section 74A of the Criminal Code which applies to people behaving in a disorderly manner. The offense stated in this section is “to use insulting, offensive or threatening language.”

The law applies to anyone who behaves in a disorderly manner in a public place or to anyone who is within the sight or hearing of a person in a public place. If found guilty, a $6000 fine applies.


Graeme Watson


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