Director at Centre for Human Rights Education opposes religious bill

The head of Curtin University’s Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE), Professor Baden Offord, has written to all federal MPs and senators arguing the case against the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.

Professor Offord describes the bill as ‘fundamentally flawed’, stating that it would adversely compromise the human rights protections for gender and sexually diverse people and communities.

“The proposed bill is inherently retrograde and harmful to millions of Australians,” Professor Offord said of the letter.

“Anyone who values human rights should reject the legislation outright. This is a major test of Australia’s commitment to human rights.”

Professor Offord, who has been public about his lived experience of suicide and faith as an LGBTIQ+ person, also included his article Becoming Human: lived experience, suicide and the complexities of being along with the letter.

“Every day, LGBTIQ+ people face social, cultural, political, economic, judicial and other forms of prejudice,” Professor Offord writes in the article.

“In my research, I encounter heart-rending stories of LGBTIQ+ exclusion and persecution. Just read any news feed, watch TV, listen to people in your neighbourhood or your sporting icon. It is not acceptable that the proposed and revised Religious Discrimination Bill should actually legalise discrimination and hate.”

“There has been an immense groundswell of protest against this bill across the Australian community, which includes the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Equality Australia, The Coalition of Major Professional & Participation Sport (COMPPS) – which is comprised of Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, Rugby Australia, Netball Australia, the AFL, NRL and FFA, and many others.”

“It’s also highly significant that Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, in his most recent report on 2nd of March, has categorically rejected claims that religious beliefs ‘can be used as a legitimate justification for violence or discrimination against LGBT+ people.”

CHRE have affirmed that they recognise and respect a multi-religious society, but raise concerns over LGBTIQ+ folks of minority faiths who may feel the threat of intensified targeting.

“Given these serious concerns, the Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education strongly opposes this bill and calls on the federal government to reject it wholesale.”

“The CHRE calls on the government to strongly reaffirm Australia’s commitment to human rights in a secular, diverse, democratic and inclusive society.

OIP Staff

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 and

QLife: 1800 184 527 and
QLife are a counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.