ACL says Andrews government has ‘declared war on faith communities’

The Australian Christian Lobby says the Andrews government has “declared war on faith communities” with the passage of it’s amendments to the state’s Equal Opportunity Act.

The group’s Victoria Coordinator Jasmine Yuen says “the Religious Exceptions legislation threatens the very existence of a religion and its institutions.”

In a post to the group’s website Yuen accuses the Victoria government of deliberately bringing on both the legislation that banned conversion therapy, and the latest updates to the Equal Opportunity legislation at a time when religious groups were least able to argue against the bills.

“Both bills were tabled at the most inappropriate time when Victorians were just coming out of lockdowns, and while pastors and religious school principals were run off their feet to get their churches and schools moving forward. Both bills were hastily debated and passed without proper consultation with faith groups and stakeholders.

“Both bills claim to end discrimination while sidelining religious groups and undermining freedom of religion and expression.” Yuen said.

“It should concern us to see how the Andrews government is trying to indoctrinate Victorians through legislation at lightning speed – and to see the tactics employed – of ramming through bills at inappropriate times and advancing its agendas with deception.” the leading figure in the ACL said.

Yuen said politicians were being hypocritical by removing the exemptions to anti-discrimination acts from churches, but leaving them remaining for political parties.

The legislation was welcomed by LGBTIQA+ Equality groups who say the legislation will provide much need protections. When the legislation was introduced back in September Anna Brown from Equality Australia said it would provide much needed protections.

“Not only do LGBTQ+ people experience the injustice of being turned away from a service or losing their job because of who they are, but the very existence of these laws causes harm,” CEO of Equality Australia Anna Brown told SBS News.

“We live in fear of discrimination and are more likely not to disclose our gender identity or sexual orientation, or simply choose not to access services at all,” Brown told SBS News.

When the bill passed last week Labor MP Harriet Shing, the first openly lesbian member of Victorian parliament, said those who opposed the bill did not understand what it is like to discriminated against.

“Voting against this bill because you think you know tolerance and inclusion is not to know the discrimination that I face,” she told parliament. “For our entire lives, we are told that we’re different and we’re told in too many cases that that difference is unacceptable.”

OIP Staff

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