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The Tasmanian Upper House’s decision to vote against watering down hate speech laws is sure to be controversial.

Some people will say it will unduly limit free speech.

They will be wrong.

With every right comes an equal responsibility not to abuse that right to harm others.

Tasmania’s laws against hate speech simply enshrine that responsibility.

Even more importantly, the laws in question are an expression of our desire to protect each other. The case made for keeping the laws strong was about society looking out for its most vulnerable members.

It was about us banding together in defense of the weak and powerless.

In this way, today’s decision was an example of Tasmania at its very best. Far from being a defeat for free speech, it was a victory for community.

*Rodney Croome is a long-standing campaigner in Tasmania and nationally for marriage equality.