Senator James Paterson announces his own conservative marriage bill

Liberal Senator James Paterson has announced he has developed his own marriage bill, which has more emphasis on religious protections than the bill put forward by colleague Senator Dean Smith.

Writing in The AustralianSenator Paterson said he’d developed his marriage bill to ensure there were sufficiently robust protects for freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

It is not known if Senator Paterson’s bill is the same bill that Western Australian Liberal MP Ian Goodenough said a collection of a dozen conservative MPs were working on creating, or if there are still more alternative bills to be put forward.

Senator Paterson said he was a supporter of same sex marriage but also believed there was a need for religious freedoms to be protected.

“As a society, we uphold the idea of religious freedom because we believe people of faith ­deserve to be able to lead their lives according to their values. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are intimately linked. As a non-­religious person, I should have no fewer rights to live my life consistent with my beliefs than anyone else.” Senator Paterson announced.

“That’s why it is necessary to extend the same principle applied in other same-sex marriage bills beyond ministers of religion to anyone else directly connected to a wedding. If it is wrong to force a priest to participate in a same-sex ­wedding against their beliefs, it should be wrong to force a florist or a photographer too.”

The Senator from Victoria said his bill would allow any Australian to declare that they would not participate in a same-sex wedding if it violated their religious beliefs.

Senator Paterson said his bill would also include provision for people who were not religious to object to being involved in a same-sex marriage, if it went against their beliefs.

Freedom of speech is also covered in the proposed bill, with the senator arguing that people should be able to say whatever they like about same sex couples as long as it was not harassment or threatening.

The bill would also have a no-detriment clause that would forbid the government and its agencies from withdrawing funding from an organisation that was opposed to marriage equality, professional organisations would not be able to refuse to register a practitioner who opposed same-sex marriage and public servants would not be allowed to be fired for sticking to their beliefs.

Commercial operations would be able to turn down bookings or business with both those who support marriage equality and those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage. In his opinion piece Senator Paterson said printing companies, broadcasters and venues would be able to turn down business from either side of the debate.

The bill would also allow parents to remove their children from any classes they believed contained content that did not meet their beliefs about marriage.

Update 13-11-17 8:16Read Senator Paterson’s Bill 

OIP Staff


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