In 2009, Andrew Bolt published two articles in the HWT criticizing what he called a “trend” of Australian people identifying themselves as aboriginal. The articles were entitled “It’s So Hip to be Black” and “White Fellas in the Black”; they alleged that fair-skinned people were “choosing to identify as Aboriginal” in order to gain career advantages. In response, Aboriginal activist Ms. Pat Eatock, along with 8 other applicants, filed a complaint against Bolt and HWT seeking an apology and an injunction against publication of the articles with the Federal Court of Australia.
Bolt and HWT admitted that each of the 9 individuals in the complaint were of Aboriginal descent and that each person had genuinely self-identified as an Aboriginal person ever since childhood. The Applicants agreed that each of them had fairer rather than darker skin color. Eatock argued that the articles breached Section 18C of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) because they conveyed offensive messages about Aboriginal people who have fairer skin. Section 18C RDA states:
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if: (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and (b) the act is done because of the race, colour, or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.