just.equal seeks urgent meeting with Senator Cash on religious discrimination

National lobby group, just.equal Australia, has welcomed public concerns about the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill from moderate Liberal Government Party MPs saying it increases pressure on Labor to come out against the Bill.

This week Attorney General, Michaelia Cash, announced she would bring a rewrite of the Bill to parliament by December, it’ll be the government’s third draft of the legislation. The push for religious discrimination has raised concern from moderate members of the Liberal party.

Spokesperson for just.equal Australia, Brian Greig, said the Liberal moderates had now expressed more concern with the Bill than the Labor opposition.

“The ‘warning shot’ these MPs have rightly fired over the bow of this legislation is very welcome, as is their recognition that the current Bill weakens existing LGBTIQA+ anti-discrimination protections.”

“But it’s concerning that these Liberal MPs are now the leading critics of the Bill and not the Labor Party.

“As a party, Labor has not stated its opposition to this Bill, nor publicly acknowledged the harm it will do to LGBTIQA+ people and other communities by rolling back existing discrimination protections,” Greig said.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Coalition MP’s Warren Entsch, Tim Wilson and Dean Smith warned Attorney General, Michaelia Cash, not to compromise on LGBTIQA+ rights or create a faith-based “Bill of Rights.”

WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith, who helped shape the final marriage equality law in 2017, said the Bill must not roll back any existing anti-discrimination measures.

“A baseline for many Australians will be a commitment to not rolling back Australia’s very effective anti-discrimination laws, which are already in place,” he told The Australian.

Brian Greig said Senator Smith had identified the main flaw in the Bill; that it overrides federal, state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

“The Prime Minister had promised that his bill would be a shield and not a sword, but has broken his promise. This Bill is a sword aimed at the heart of vulnerable minorities who fall foul of traditional religious doctrines.”

“It was supposed to protect people of faith from discrimination, but instead it allows discrimination in the name of faith.”

Greig said just.equal Australia has written to Senator Cash urging her to consult with the LGBTIQA+ community and other groups that will be disadvantaged by her proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.

In the letter to Senator Cash, just.equal Australia listed all the groups that will have their discrimination protections rolled back including people with disability, women, people in minority faiths as well as LGBTIQA+ people.

“We are seeking an urgent meeting with Michaelia Cash to put our case against the Bill, given it seems the Government is only hearing one side of the story at the moment.”

“But we’re also realistic that the Bill is likely to go ahead and we are preparing to campaign against it.”

The organisation said their campaign against the legislation would focus on four areas; highlighting the groups like people with disability and women seeking health care who will be disadvantaged, highlighting the importance of the discrimination laws that will be weakened, showing how the Bill gives special rights to conservative religious figures not available to others and convincing Labor to vote as a bloc against the Bill.

OIP Staff, image has been digitally created. 

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