June 18, 2020
One Nation NSW’s “Religious Freedom” Bill: explainer
The NSW One Nation leader has introduced a bill to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). It will prohibit discrimination based on religious beliefs and activities. But the Bill has fundamental problems. It elevates religious expression above other human rights, allowing people to use religion to hurt others (including other people of faith).
Here are five fundamental issues with the Bill:
- religion overrides government rules: faith-based organisations and commercial bodies which define themselves as religious will be able to challenge NSW government programs, policies, contracts and decisions which contradict their particular religion;
- no consequences for conduct: it will be almost impossible for government and non-government employers, educators and professional and licencing bodies to foster inclusive cultures, or meet shareholder, customer or community expectations, when their employees or members use their religion privately to hurt others;
- double standards in employment, education and service delivery: faith-based organisations will be able to discriminate on the grounds of religion in employment, education and service delivery, even when receiving public funding;
- religion above the law: it gives protection to religious activities which may be unlawful, such as religious activity that vilifies others or breaches civil obligations;
- religion above human rights: the freedom of religion will be prioritised above all other rights and freedoms when applying NSW’s anti-discrimination laws.