Last updated 1 December 2020
Subsection 22(1) of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Human Rights Act) provides that every person has the right of peaceful assembly. It upholds the rights of people to gather for a common purpose as a means to exchange information, express opinions and participate in a protest or demonstration. It also protects the rights of persons to associate with, meet and join groups with compatible people.
Subsection 22(2) provides that every person has the right to freedom of association with others. This explicitly includes the right to form and join trade unions, but extends to all other forms of associations (e.g. by allowing people to join political, sporting or professional associations and other special interest groups).
Subsection 22(1) contains an internal limitation. It is specifically limited to peaceful assemblies (i.e. those that are not violent).
The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association will also be subject to the general limitation provision in s 13 of the Human Rights Act. This provides human rights may be subject under law to reasonable limits, which are justified in a free and democratic society. See ‘Human Rights may be Limited’ for further explanation.
The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association may be engaged:
- in relation to actions and decisions by police and local council to disperse protests (e.g. the arrest of protestors and disbursement of encampments in public spaces)
- when considering a non-association order at sentence that prohibits the offender from associating or communicating with other people or an organisation (e.g. other members of an outlawed motorcycle club)
- in a discrimination complaint on the basis of association (e.g. where it is alleged that there has been discrimination on the basis of trade union activity; this may engage the right to freedom of association with others).
These examples have been adapted from Australian cases. They are provided by way of example only, and are not a substitute for legal advice.