This Media Release relates to the Religious Discrimination Bill. Join the campaign to fight the 2nd draft Religious Discrimination Bill here.

December 10 2019

On Human Rights Day the Prime Minister and Attorney General have announced the second draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Comments attributable to Anna Brown, CEO Equality Australia:

The revised Religious Discrimination Bill will unacceptably:

  • Provide protections for people who intimidate others through their expression of religious beliefs, limiting the ability of large employers and professional bodies to enforce universal standards of appropriate conduct on members of their profession
  • Provide protections for people who break local council by-laws, such as street preachers, which we otherwise have to follow
  • Establish double standards in the law, allowing religious organisations the ability to discriminate against others with different or no belief. Protections are provided to companies associated with religious individuals who are refused services, goods or facilities because of views or events that are offensive to many
  • Compromise patient health by making it harder for health employers and professional bodies to ensure doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists do not refuse treatment to people on religious grounds

We are concerned that the exemptions for religious bodies and statements of belief given to individuals. 

“The law should set clear standards which must apply to everyone, equally. The Bill introduces an unprecedented, radical test to determine whether discrimination against people of different beliefs can be justified. A person who agrees with you should not be determining whether the harmful statement you made comprises a religious belief.”

“The Statements of Belief clauses immunise people who intimidate others from being held to account through anti-discrimination laws, and by their relevant professional bodies.”

“The Government needs to act to ensure new and radical provisions do not roll back existing rights for all Australians under the guise of religious freedom.”

“A double standard exists in the Religious Discrimination Bill— privileging religious institutions to the detriment of Australians who hold different beliefs, or no religious belief at all— in employment, education settings, and in the provision of goods and services.” 

“Australians who don’t hold religious views, or disagree with the religious views held by others will have less protections under the law.”

“The narrowed scope on the healthcare clause demonstrates that the initial Bill went way too far. However, the healthcare provisions in the second draft still apply to doctors, nurses, psychologists, midwives, and pharmacists— these are the healthcare workers most likely to be the first line of response for people seeking treatment. They still don’t have minimum safeguards for patients health. The Bill still allows for adverse impacts on patient health. Laws that privilege religious views over patient health are unacceptable.”

“This Bill divides out communities, provides different standards for different people, and allow people with extreme views to define their own rules”. 


Media Contact
Paige Burton
0418 432 030 

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