Religious Discrimination Bill must go to joint parliamentary inquiry before vote

25 November 2021 – LGBTIQ+ group, Equality Australia has responded to Prime Minister’s speech introducing the Religious Discrimination Bill to parliament and called for a joint parliamentary inquiry before the bill is brought to a vote.

“The Prime Minister is right to say that people of faith should be protected from discrimination and the process of doing so should not divide the Australian community, but his Religious Discrimination Bill fails his own test,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“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 fails to do this, including provisions that would wind back hard-fought protections for women, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ people, and even people of faith.”

“What constitutes discrimination today, will be lawful tomorrow, allowing people to say harmful, insulting and demeaning things. Things like a medical worker telling a person living with HIV that AIDS is a punishment from God, or a person living with disability that their disability is caused by the devil.

The group challenged the Prime Minister’s assertion that the Bill would do nothing to impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in religious schools.

“It is already legal for religious schools to fire, expel or otherwise discriminate against LGBT students and staff. The Religious Discrimination Bill will do nothing to change this, instead bolstering the ability of religious schools to refuse to hire staff that affirm or support them, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“The Australian Parliament must stand together to oppose the Bill.”

Equality Australia called for a joint parliamentary inquiry to ensure the impacts of the bill on vulnerable groups are heard by parliamentary representatives of both houses.

“It is unreasonable and irresponsible for the Government to ask Members of Parliament to vote on the Religious Discrimination Bill without a full understanding of its impacts on the community and on their constituents”, said Anna Brown, CEO from Equality Australia.

“We urge the Parliament to send the Bill to a joint Parliamentary committee before it is voted on in the House of Representatives.”

Media Contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au