Conservative MPs prepare a marriage bill with greater religious protections

A group of conservative MPs are rushing to create their own marriage bill in preparation for the ‘Yes’ case being successful in the national postal survey.

The group, which includes WA Liberal Ian Goodenough and Andrew Hastie, are working on their own private members bill which will have greater protections for religious freedom than those outlined in the bill put forward by WA Senator Dean Smith.

Joining them in the push for a bill with far-reaching religious protections is Senator Eric Abetz, Zed Seselja and Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi.

Senator Smith’s bill, which is based on the findings of a senate inquiry into the issue of same sex marriage, provides exemptions for churches, religious organisations and the businesses they run. It also has an exceptions for existing civil celebrants who have religious convictions.

Family groups and conservatives have argued that far greater protections are required so that any Australia who holds a religious belief will not be forced to participate in a same sex marriage ceremony, or deal recognise marriages of same-sex couples if they are not supporters of marriage equality because of a religious conviction.

Goodenough told has Perth Now that  it was essential to have provisions for people of faith that went “beyond the wedding ceremony”.

“It’s to ensure that because we are making such a big change to a fundamental institution in our society we need to think about the broader implications — it goes beyond the wedding ceremony,” Goodenough said.

The MP predicted there would be a lot of discussion about which bill should be put forward if the postal survey showed that Australians wanted the laws to be changed.

Goodenough said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s belief that legislation could be passed by Christmas was possibly too ambitious.

Senator Smith said that he was happy to look at other bills but didn’t think people would supportive of bills that watered down existing anti-discrimination laws.

Former Prime Minister John Howard has criticised current PM Malcolm Turnbull for not putting forward a specific bill in relation to changing the marriage laws.

Over the weekend Howard took out full page advertisements in newspapers to argue against changing the marriage laws.

In a letter to the Australian people Howard argued that concerns about parental rights, religion freedom and freedom speech are legitimate concerns in the debate, and it was the government’s responsibility to be specific about what the legislation would be before the postal survey closes.

OIP Staff


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