Concern government will push Religious Discrimination bill through

National LGBTIQ+ advocacy organisation, Just.Equal Australia, has written to leading members of both major parties urging them to support a parliamentary inquiry into the Religious Discrimination Bill when it is introduced by Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash.

The call comes in response to news reports that Senator Cash does not believe such an inquiry is necessary.

Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said there was reason for serious concern about the bills contents.

“If the previous drafts of this Bill are anything to go by, it will take existing rights away from women, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ people and others.”

“Those Australians who will be deprived of their rights by this Bill deserve to have their voices heard and concerns addressed.”

“Previous consultations by the Government aren’t a substitute for a fully-fledged public inquiry by Parliament, particularly given the Government’s obvious interest in having this Bill pass”

Croome said Just.Equal Australia has written to the Attorney-General, shadow Attorney-General, leaders of both major parties, supporters of existing discrimination protections in both parties, the Greens and Senate cross-benchers.

According to a report on October 24th in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Government will not refer the Bill to an inquiry.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash signalled the government would ramp up pressure on Labor to not hold a Senate inquiry because the government “has conducted two rounds of public consultation on draft legislation, and met face to face with over 90 stakeholders in a series of roundtables”.

The report also highlighted that Martyn Iles, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, had recently spoken about how he understood the bill would include the ‘Folau Clause’ which would limit the ability of businesses to take action against employees who made statements based on their religious beliefs.

Iles had given an interview to Vision Christian Radio, which as since been removed from online platforms.

“There is a sense among faith leaders at the moment of disappointment that the bill is not as good as it should be and that there are a lot of flaws in the bill,” he said.

“At the same time a sense of reluctant support because they can see that the bill does make a couple of key offerings which will make a difference in this country.”

Iles said the ACL was “very, very strongly applying pressure from a grassroots level and from our lobbying level to ensure the Folau clause remains in the bill”.

“It was fought tooth and nail, it was really at risk for a long time there one great win is that the final draft of the bill will contain a Folau clause. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad. And it does exist within the bill.”

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has vowed to introduce the legislation before the end of the year, but there are only a handful of sitting days remaining.

Liberal Senator  Concetta Fierravanti-Wells recently highlighted that there is a chance the third iteration of the Religious Freedom laws might not get passed because the government will run out of time.

OIP Staff

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