The most effective way that people in the 1960’s used to prevent racism was by the legal system. Many laws were implemented to try and stop racial discrimination, which was too commonly seen in around the world. In this section, we will take a look in some of the laws that were implemented to prevent racism. Some go back as far as 50 years ago, some were recent.
Take for instance, let’s look at the Swiss. In 1995, the Swiss implemented the anti-racism law. This law goes against organizing, supporting or participating groups or propaganda that goes against racial discrimination, using verbal or physical abuse that goes against racial discrimination, or whoever takes, on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion, a service that is offered at large. Anyone who breaks this law would be imprisoned up to 3 years or would be fined. The lower house of the Swiss parliament first approved this anti-racism law in December 1992, and then, the upper house approved it in March 1993. In a nationwide voting, on September 25, 1994, The law was narrowly approved by 54.6 percent of those who voted. This was how this law came about, despite the fact that half of the country's cantons (states) did not vote. Of course, this was already in the late 90’s. Racism was already not that common by then. Let us take a closer look at these kinds of laws that prevented racial discrimination in the past.
One law that was aimed for preventing racial discrimination in the past was the controversial Sedition Act of 1964 in Singapore. It was later changed a bit so that the posting of seditious comments is also illegal. According to the law, a seditious act means to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government; to excite the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure in Singapore, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established; to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Singapore; to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore; to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore. Summarized in a sentence, the Sedition Act states that any act which attempts to promote hatred among individuals and the communities, or one that attempts to destabilize the government is liable for charges under the Sedition Act. However, the Sedition Act notes that any act with the aim of pointing out a mistake on the part of the government, persuading others to lawfully alter an unreasonable law, or pointing out acts of a seditious tendency is not seditious. The penalty for committing a seditious act is a possible fine of up to $5000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years or both. If found possessing seditious material, one can also face a fine of up to $2000, imprisonment of up to 18 months, or if serious enough, both.
One part of a Singaporean law that aims to fight against racism is Section 298 of the Penal Code. This law states that it is illegal to, “with deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utter any word or make any sound in the hearing of that person, or make any gesture in the sight of that person, or place any object in the sight of that person”. In short, this means that individuals who attempt to hurt the religious or racial feelings of others intentionally will be liable for charges.
Another part of that Singaporean law that aims for racial harmony is Section 499 of the Penal Code. This section states that someone, “by words … by signs, or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person, intending to harm … or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.” In the explanation of the various circumstances that constitute defamation, Section 499 implies that almost any words spoken in ill-will can be regarded as defamation and can be charged as such.
With all these laws aimed at curbing racial discrimination, it is easy to think that racism is non-existent in our modern world. Sure, many people will not be racist to other people in the face of these laws, but, there is still that minority that still discriminate other races. Racism is happening here and now. We cannot think that the government can handle this issue alone. We have to act as one cohesive society by our own. That is the only way that racial integration can take hold.