Equality advocates say both parties are ignoring the views of Australians

Equality advocates say both major parties are ignoring the views of the Australian people following the release of reports from two parliamentary inquiries into the Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill

Both reports released today endorse the Bill. Just.Equal Australia said the process had been disappointing, claiming that both inquiries were stacked with Government members, and favoured supporters of the bill over those concerned about it’s negative effects.

Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said polling showed the Australian public were opposed to key elements of the bill.

“A recent national poll by YouGov Galaxy found that 77% of Australians oppose special exemptions to allow harmful speech in the name of religion while 62% oppose religious schools being allowed to sack LGBT teachers.” Croome said.

“Yet in the two parliamentary reports both major parties have either endorsed, or left the door open to, a federal Religious Discrimination Bill that would do exactly that.”

“Both reports gloss over the key problems with the Federal Bill, problems that have been raised by a wide array of legal experts, community organisations, professional bodies and state governments.”

“In their effort to chase the votes of the tiny number of Australians who want special legal privileges for religion, Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have abandoned the vast majority of Australians who want equal treatment for all.”

Croome said analysis of one of the inquiries shows the majority of submissions were against the Bill, but the majority of witnesses called were for it.

“It’s an indisputable fact that the inquiries had a bias toward the minority of Australians who support key features of the Bill.” he said.

The two reports both support the passage of the bill and suggest only minor amendments.

Attorney General, Senator Michaelia Cash said there had been overwhelming evidence that people of faith needed protections.

“We know we need this bill because Australians of faith deserve the same protections as everyone else. We have heard countless stories of discrimination of Australians with religious beliefs, particularly those in religious minorities,” Senator Cash said in a statement.

Labor’s Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, said the party would be considering the outcomes of the two committee reports and discussing them in a party room meeting on Tuesday ahead of the bill being debated in parliament.

Graeme Watson

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