Pauline Hanson sued for ‘racist’ tweet telling Mehreen Faruqi to ‘piss off back to Pakistan’

The 59-year-old, who immigrated from Pakistan to Sydney in 1992, said she decided to escalate the matter to the courts out of an obligation to stand up for migrants and keep Hanson accountable.

“Senator Hanson telling me to … ‘piss off back to Pakistan’ was insulting and humiliating enough, but it also unleashed a frenzy of hate and abuse targeted at me for days,” Faruqi said in a written statement.


“Like many migrants and people of colour in this country, I’ve been told to ‘go back to where I come from’ hundreds of times and it never gets easier. Being told to go back to where we come from is the ultimate racist dogwhistle because it tries to rob you of your belonging to the place you call home and paints you as ‘un-Australian’.

“This court action is about holding her accountable and using the Racial Discrimination Act to prevent her from engaging in bigoted conduct that hurts people in the future.”

Lawyers acting for the senator are seeking that Hanson: be restricted from using the phrases “piss off back to Pakistan,” “go back to where you came from” or any variation; remove the tweet and “pin” a post to the top of her Twitter account acknowledging the unlawfulness of the original tweet; make a $150,000 contribution to a non-profit or community organisation of Faruqi’s choosing; and undertake anti-racism training at Hanson’s own cost.

The law Hanson is alleged to have breached has been the subject of years of political debate. Few people have been found to have breached section 18C, which was added to the racial discrimination act by the Keating government in 1995 and elevated to prominence when columnist Andrew Bolt was found in 2011 to have breached the law by implying light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain.

Andrew Bolt fell foul of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in 2011.

Andrew Bolt fell foul of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in 2011.Credit: Justin McManus

Conservatives and some free speech advocates have argued a law banning the offence of other people stifles free debate, but the Abbott government dumped a plan to repeal it amid a debate that drew out a famous comment from then-attorney-general George Brandis, who proclaimed people had the “right to be a bigot”.

Marque Lawyers has submitted that Hanson’s tweet breached section 18C because the tweet was public, was reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a group of people, and was done on the basis of Faruqi’s race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.

A person can defend themselves against charges under 18C by arguing they were making a fair comment that was an expression of genuine belief, adding to artistic, academic or scientific pursuits in the public interest, or reporting something accurately.

Another One Nation MP, NSW upper house member and former Labor leader Mark Latham, was this week sued and referred to police over graphic and homophobic comments aimed at high-profile NSW MP Alex Greenwich.

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