Australian Christian Lobby met by protesters in Tasmania

Over sixty people gathered yesterday in Hobart to defend the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act from attacks by the Australian Christian Lobby.

The group of LGBTIQA+ people, people with disability and their allies gathered outside the Grand Chancellor Hotel in Hobart where the ACL was conducting a meeting as part of its tour of the nation.

Local community members have described the theme of the ACL’s meetings in Hobart and Launceston as a push to weaken section 17 of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act that prohibits humiliating, intimidating and other bullying behaviour on a range of grounds including sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, gender and disability.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said people didn’t want to see the state’s laws being watered down.

“We gathered to defend Tasmania’s gold-standard Anti-Discrimination Act from an interstate organisation running a misleading campaign against it.”

“The ACL runs a false and fear-based narrative that LGBTIQA+ people are wielding section 17 against people of faith.”

“But the reality is that section 17 has helped a large number of Tasmanians from many different backgrounds challenge bullying in the workplace, the school yard and other areas of life.”

“People with disability are the largest group to use section 17, so effectively the ACL is weaponising fear of LGBTIQA+ people to take rights away from people with disability.”

“Tasmania is a better place because of section 17 and we will not let anyone take away the protections it provides.”

In 2016 the State Liberal Government attempted to water down section 17 but that failed in the state’s Upper House. In 2019 and 2020 the Federal Liberal Government proposed to water down section 17 as part of its Religious Freedom Bill which has yet to be introduced into Parliament.

The ACL claims section 17 infringes freedom of speech and religion, but the Tasmanian Supreme Court, in a case about an anti-gay flyer distributed in Hobart, found these rights are not violated by section 17.

Source: Media Release, Images: Michelle Dracoulis

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