Government takes third run at religious discrimination laws

religious freedom Michaela Cash

The Morrison Government will have a third run at creating religious freedom laws with Attorney General Michaelia Cash telling The Australian newspaper she hopes to have legislation before parliament in December.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had originally proposed to have the laws introduced to parliament before Christmas 2019 but successive proposals have been heavily criticised as being unworkable, discriminatory and unfair.

The proposed legislation will be extensively re-written and be substantially different to the previous legislation suggested by former Attorney General Christian Porter.

Senator Cash has reportedly been meeting religious groups in recent days with many of them hoping the government will expand the legislation from its previous draft with suggestions it may override state legislation that bans conversion practices and some state based anti-discrimination laws.

Equality Australia, one of the leading LGBTQIA+ rights groups have said the legislation will not be acceptable if it erodes any existing rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Australians.

Chief executive Anna Brown told The Australian that Equality Australia supports the principle that religious people should be protected from discrimination, but called on Senator Cash not to prioritise faith-based institutions over LGBTQIA+ rights.

“Our laws should protect us all, equally, but the current draft Religious Discrimination Bill is deeply flawed, containing unprecedented and dangerous provisions that would undermine access to healthcare and inclusive workplaces,” Brown said.

Instead of prioritising laws that privilege religious institutions and entrench new forms of discrimination, the new Attorney-General should deliver on the government’s commitment to protect students at religious schools, and wind back outdated exemptions that allow religious institutions to treat people unfairly because of who they are or whom they love.”

The announcement that the religious discrimination legislation was back on the front burner follows lobby group Faith for Freedom holding a ‘religious freedom weekend’ where people of faith were encouraged to contact government MPs and insist the issue be given more attention.

The previous round of consultation on the bill attracted thousands of submissions from advocacy groups, religious bodies and everyday Australians.

OIP Staff


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