MORE THAN 80 ORGANISATIONS JOINTLY ENDORSE STATEMENT RAISING CONCERNS WITH ONE NATION NSW’S RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BILL
October 22, 2020
On the eve of public hearings before a NSW Parliament inquiry, leaders from prominent health bodies, LGBTIQ+ community groups, women’s organisations, disability groups, community legal centres, faith-based service providers, unions, religious institutions and other non-government organisations have come together to urge the NSW Parliament not to implement One Nation NSW’s Religious Discrimination Bill.
ACON, Western Sydney Community Forum, Diversity Council of Australia, Women With Disabilities Australia, The Foundation for Young Australians, NSW Teachers Federation, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Wagga Women’s Health Centre, Uniting NSW/ACT, Unions NSW, NSW Women’s Electoral Lobby, and BLAQ Aboriginal Corporation are amongst the more than 80 organisations who have already signed on to the joint statement in opposition to the Bill.
Supporting fair and equal discrimination laws that protect all people, equally, the organisations are concerned that this Bill fails to do so.
Equality Australia CEO, Anna Brown, says “This Bill is a threat to hard-won gains for equality. It takes us backwards and threatens inclusion for LGBTIQ+ people, women, and even people of faith. It’s important that people of faith are protected from discrimination but that cannot extend to a right to discriminate against anyone else”.
The organisations are worried about the impact of the Bill on the provision of crucial services, even when those programs are publicly funded.
Trent Dean, CEO of Mercy Connect NSW, a Catholic service provider says “The Bill has the potential to undermine the efforts of faith-based, community service organisations in creating environments which staff feel proud of, and where all clients are assured of inclusion. However, if legislators (and their constituencies) were more willing to consider the values of compassion, hospitality and respect in their thinking, we would then have a better chance of achieving national anti-discrimination protections for people of faith, without removing protections for others”.
There are concerns about the impact of the Bill on the right to judgement-free, accessible and safe healthcare, and privileging religious beliefs to the detriment of women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disabilities and people with different beliefs in workplace, education and service settings.
Hayley Foster, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Safety NSW says “Although Women’s Safety NSW respects and acknowledges religious freedoms, when it conflicts with such essential human rights, we must weigh up the importance of these, and the way in which they interact and compete with one another. This Bill does not provide an appropriate balance on this basis, placing religious freedom on a pedestal over the rights of women and girl’s health and bodily autonomy.”
The group describe the Bill as divisive, noting their concerns with the double-standards it will create in the law.
“This Bill would undermine the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, by privileging the rights of religious organisations at the expense of others. This is not the way to promote tolerance in our community” says Jonathon Hunyor, CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
For any media related to the statement and its signatories, please contact:
Full list of organisations who have signed on to the statement
- Amnesty International Australia
- ARC UNSW Student Representative Council Welfare Collective
- Asian Australian Alliance & Asian Australian Rainbow Alliance
- Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists (AABCAP)
- Australian Association of Social Workers
- Australian Catholics for Equality
- Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)
- Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
- Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
- Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, NSW/ACT Branch
- Australian Sangha Association (ASA)
- Australian Services Union NSW Branch
- BLAQ Aboriginal Corporation
- Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF)
- Buddhist Council of NSW
- Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton
- Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)
- Community Legal Centres NSW
- Diversity Council Australia (DCA)
- Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW)
- DV West
- Dying with Dignity NSW
- Equal Voices
- Equality Australia
- Fair Agenda
- Family Planning NSW
- First Mardi Gras Inc.
- Foundation for Young Australians
- HIV/AIDS Legal Centre
- Human Rights Law Centre
- Hunter Community Legal Centre
- Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC)
- Independent Education Union of Australia, NSW/ACT Branch
- Inner City Legal Centre
- Intersex Human Rights Australia
- Justice Connect
- Kingsford Legal Centre
- Marathon Health
- Marrickville Legal Centre
- Mercy Connect NSW
- National LGBTI Health Alliance
- North & Northwest Community Legal Service
- NSW Council for Civil Liberties
- NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)
- NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby
- NSW Teachers Federation
- People With Disability Australia (PWDA)
- Physical Disability Council NSW (PDCN)
- Positive Life NSW
- Public Health Association Australia
- Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
- Rainbodhi LGBTQIA+ Buddhist Community
- Rainbow Catholic InterAgency for Ministry
- Rainbow Families
- Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia
- Rationalist Association of NSW
- Rationalist Society of Australia
- Redfern Legal Centre
- Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS)
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZGOG)
- Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre
- South West Sydney Legal Centre
- Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS)
- Sydney Arco Iris Latin American and Hispanic Community (SAILAHC)
- Sydney Atheists
- Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
- Sydney Queer Irish
- Sydney Queer Muslims
- Tenants’ Union of New South Wales
- The Atheist Foundation Of Australia
- The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
- Tropical Fruits
- Unions NSW
- Uniting Church of Australia, Synod of NSW & ACT
- Uniting Network NSW/ACT
- Uniting NSW/ACT
- Uniting Vic/Tas
- Vegan NSW
- Wagga Women’s Health Centre
- Western Sydney Community Forum
- Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
- Women’s Health NSW
- Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW
- Women’s Legal Service NSW
- Women’s Safety NSW
- Yes Unlimited
- Youth Action
- YWCA Australia
Full text of statement
Everyone deserves to live, study, and work with dignity, no matter what they believe, who they are, or whom they love.
Everyone should be afforded an equal opportunity to access the services and support they need, such as education, housing and healthcare, to realise the best lives they can achieve for themselves and the people they love.
Unfortunately, One Nation NSW’s Religion Bill fails to protect all of us, equally.
The Bill allows religion to be used as an excuse to hurt, exclude and demean others, including other people of faith.
The Bill makes it harder for employers, educators, and professional and licencing bodies to foster inclusive cultures and protect their employees, customers and clients from harmful conduct motivated by one person’s beliefs.
Conduct that is unlawful or even criminal today, could also be protected in the name of the religion.
The Bill also privileges institutions over people, by setting standards for others to meet which those institutions are not willing nor required to meet themselves.
The One Nation NSW Religion Bill seeks to divide our communities; it creates double standards in our laws. For this reason, we oppose the Bill and call for fair and equal discrimination laws which protect all of us, including people of faith and those who are not religious, equally alongside other groups.