Just.Equal call for Religious Discrimination bill to be voted down

Just.Equal Australia has slammed the Federal Religious Discrimination Bill, released today, as extreme and have called for moderate Liberals, Labor and the cross-bench to vote it down.

Just.Equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison has created a bill that allows discrimination in the name of faith.

“Scott Morrison promised a Bill that would stop discrimination on the basis of faith, which is something we would strongly support, but instead he’s delivered a Bill that will allow discrimination in the name of faith, which is completely unacceptable in contemporary Australia.”

“This Bill is no better, and in some respects worse, than the two previous public drafts.”

“The Bill still seeks to roll back those valuable anti-discrimination laws that have made Australia a fairer and more inclusive place over the last forty years.” Croome said.

“We call on moderate Liberals, Labor and cross-bench members to vote down this extreme and unnecessary Bill.”

Mr Croome said the Bill would override all federal state, territory laws to allow demeaning “statements of belief” in the name of religion, potentially override state and territory laws to allow LGBTIQ+ staff to be discriminated against by faith-based organisations, and would stop professional bodies from disciplining members who demean their clients or fellow professionals in the name of religion.

“This Bill is worse than the previous drafts insofar as the clause exempting ‘statements of belief’ from existing federal, state and territory laws is even wider than before and there is a new section potentially allowing LGBTIQ+ people to be sacked even if state and territory laws protect them.”

“The Folau clause and the conscientious objection clause for health professionals may now be out of the Bill, but there’s plenty to take their place.”

“This Bill is not about freedom for faith, it’s about legal privileges for some very harmful prejudices.”

Croome went on to welcome a new poll showing Australians overwhelmingly oppose religious freedom being used to abuse others, with Coalition voters being the most opposed.

The poll by Essential Media released today found 64% of Australians agree that “people should not be allowed to argue religious freedom to abuse others”, with a whopping 69% of Coalition voters agreeing.

Rodney Croome said the new poll showed Australians did not want the bill.

“The poll question pinpoints the precise problem with the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill – allowing humiliation, harm and abuse under cover of religious freedom.”

“Clearly, Australians do not want a Bill that allows this demeaning behaviour, with almost seven in ten Coalition voters opposing it.”

“John Howard’s battlers don’t want Scott Morrison’s culture war.”

The Essential Poll found only 37% of Australians, and less than half of Coalition voters, believe there should be stronger laws to protect people who express their religious views.

Support for laws in this area was highest amongst Coalition voters with 46 per cent of those surveyed voicing support, 36% of Labor voters thought the laws were needed, and just 28% of Greens voters. For those who supported minor parties the support was 34%.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to introduce the bill into parliament on Thursday.

OIP Staff

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