Campaign against Religious Discrimination Bill focuses on health care

A new campaign targeting the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill has been launched, highlighting the bill’s potential effects on access to health care.

The Bill has been criticised as “a license to discriminate” in the name of religion, including allowing demeaning workplace comments and permitting the refusal of health care.

The Equality Not Discrimination campaign is being spearheaded by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and LGBTIQ+ advocates just.equal.

“The Religious Freedom Bill would allow discrimination against some LGBTIQ+ front-line health workers,” PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent said.

“My gay son is being applauded for his paramedic work in Britian but could face discrimination doing the same work in his home country of Australia if this Bill is enacted.”

“The Bill would also make it harder to access health care by allowing discrimination against all those groups who fall foul of traditional religious beliefs, including LGBTIQ people, people with disability and women.”

“The pandemic is a time when we should unite in the face of a common problem, not further divide the community as this Bill would.”

A supporter of the Bill and long-time opponent of LGBTIQ+ rights, Senator Eric Abetz, has said it will be introduced in 2021, although just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome shared concerns it could be as early as August .

“We don’t know exactly when the Bill will be introduced, but there are rumours it could be as early as August,” Croome said.

“What we can be certain about is that it will return and when it does it will mean more discrimination, not less.”

The new campaign urges those concerned about discrimination to write to federal politicians calling for the Bill to be scrapped in light of the pandemic.

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