Witches rejoice over bill to repeal Australian anti-sorcery law

Melbourne, Australia - Sorcerers, fortune-tellers and other pagans will be able to cast their spells without fear in the Australian state of Victoria after local authorities moved to repeal a 200 year-old anti-witchcraft law.

Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls said he had introduced legislation repealing the Vagrancy Act, which makes it illegal to pretend or profess to tell fortunes or "use any kind of witchcraft sorcery enchantment or conjuration".

"It is almost 200 years old and is steeped in the language and attitudes of Dickensian England," Hulls said.

"The times have long since passed when witchcraft and fortune-telling represented a danger to law and order, or a focus for criminal activity," he said.

Other offences covered by the act, including escape from lawful custody, obscene acts, begging and possessing house-breaking implements, are to be re-enacted in other legislation, he said.

A pro-witchcraft group called the Pagan Awareness Network hailed the death of the Act, which it said was the last law on the books in Australia to outlaw sorcery.

"There'll be several thousand pagans in Melbourne celebrating this news under the full moon tonight," said network spokesman Gavin Andrew.

Andrew said his group had campaigned against the Vagrancy Act on the grounds it discriminated on the basis of religion.