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: 

Paige Burton
Equality Australia

Full list of organisations who have signed on to the statement

  1. ACON
  2. Amnesty International Australia
  3. ARC UNSW Student Representative Council Welfare Collective
  4. Asian Australian Alliance & Asian Australian Rainbow Alliance
  5. Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists (AABCAP)
  6. Australian Association of Social Workers
  7. Australian Catholics for Equality
  8. Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)
  9. Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
  10. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
  11. Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, NSW/ACT Branch
  12. Australian Sangha Association (ASA)
  13. Australian Services Union NSW Branch
  14. BLAQ Aboriginal Corporation
  15. Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF)
  16. Buddhist Council of NSW
  17. Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton
  18. Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)
  19. Community Legal Centres NSW
  20. Diversity Council Australia (DCA)
  21. Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW)
  22. DV West
  23. Dying with Dignity NSW
  24. Equal Voices
  25. Equality Australia
  26. Fair Agenda
  27. Family Planning NSW
  28. First Mardi Gras Inc.
  29. Foundation for Young Australians 
  30. HIV/AIDS Legal Centre
  31. Human Rights Law Centre
  32. Hunter Community Legal Centre
  33. Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC)
  34. Independent Education Union of Australia, NSW/ACT Branch
  35. Inner City Legal Centre
  36. Intersex Human Rights Australia
  37. Justice Connect
  38. Kingsford Legal Centre
  39. Marathon Health
  40. Marrickville Legal Centre
  41. Mercy Connect NSW
  42. National LGBTI Health Alliance
  43. North & Northwest Community Legal Service
  44. NSW Council for Civil Liberties
  45. NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)
  46. NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby
  47. NSW Teachers Federation
  48. People With Disability Australia (PWDA)
  49. Physical Disability Council NSW (PDCN)
  50. Positive Life NSW
  51. Public Health Association Australia
  52. Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
  53. Rainbodhi LGBTQIA+ Buddhist Community
  54. Rainbow Catholic InterAgency for Ministry
  55. Rainbow Families
  56. Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia
  57. Rationalist Association of NSW
  58. Rationalist Society of Australia
  59. Redfern Legal Centre
  60. Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS)
  61. Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZGOG)
  62. Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre
  63. South West Sydney Legal Centre
  64. Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS)
  65. Sydney Arco Iris Latin American and Hispanic Community (SAILAHC)
  66. Sydney Atheists
  67. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
  68. Sydney Queer Irish
  69. Sydney Queer Muslims
  70. Tenants’ Union of New South Wales
  71. The Atheist Foundation Of Australia
  72. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  73. Tropical Fruits
  74. Unions NSW
  75. Uniting Church of Australia, Synod of NSW & ACT
  76. Uniting Network NSW/ACT
  77. Uniting NSW/ACT
  78. Uniting Vic/Tas
  79. Vegan NSW
  80. Wagga Women’s Health Centre
  81. Western Sydney Community Forum
  82. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
  83. Women’s Health NSW
  84. Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW
  85. Women’s Legal Service NSW
  86. Women’s Safety NSW
  87. Yes Unlimited
  88. Youth Action 
  89. 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.

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