23 November, 2021 – National LGBTIQ+ group, Equality Australia, has called on Parliament to unite to oppose the third version of the Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill, released this afternoon.
“Our laws should protect all of us, equally, no matter who we are, whom we love, or what we believe. But the Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill would instead be a step backwards, winding back the hard-fought rights of women, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ people, and even people of faith.
“The Australian Parliament must stand together to oppose the Bill.”
Two of the most contentious provisions in the Bill have been removed, but the third version of the Bill still retains clauses that would wind back protections for vulnerable communities.
“The Attorney-General appears to have listened to some of the concerns of women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disability and people of faith, scaling back the so-called ‘Folau clause’ and provisions that would have allowed healthcare workers to refuse treatment to people on religious grounds”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“But the Morrison Government has retained some of the worst provisions of Bill, including damaging ‘statements of belief’ provisions that would override existing state and territory anti-discrimination protections.
“These provisions undermine everyone’s right to respect and dignity at work, school and whenever they access goods and services like healthcare.
“Regardless of the qualifying conditions surrounding the provisions in the Bill, they will have a chilling effect, meaning that people who experience discrimination at work, at school, or when accessing services will be less likely to call out behaviour that is offensive, insulting or demeaning.”
The Bill also includes a new set of provisions designed to override a new law currently being debated in the Victorian Parliament.
“In addition to better protecting LGBTQ+ people, women and others from discrimination in faith-based settings, the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021 reform will ensure that a religious organisation can only discriminate against people based on religion when religion is actually relevant to the role.”
“This will bring Victorian law into step with 21st century community expectations and the practices of many faith-based organisations that have diverse workforces and seek to treat people with dignity and respect.
“Overriding hard-fought protections in Victoria and other states would be an extraordinary act of overreach by the Morrison Government.”
Equality Australia called for the inquiry process to include both houses of Parliament.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to send the Bill to an inquiry, and urge the Government to establish a select committee to allow the participation of both houses to ensure the members hear from those that will be impacted by the Bill.”
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