Labor urged to oppose religious bias in wake of election review


LGBTIQ equality advocates have renewed calls for Labor to oppose any roll back of LGBTIQ discrimination protections now its internal review has failed to present concrete evidence the Party’s 2019 election defeat was because of the defection of large numbers of religious voters.

Just.equal say Labor has so far failed to rule out supporting such a roll back as proposed in the Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill, in part because of fears socially-conservative religious voters cost it the election.

Just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome said in the wake of the election defeat the Labor party had suggested their loss was related their support for equality issues.

“After the election, Labor developed an allergy to LGBTIQ equality which saw it dump its LGBTIQ equality portfolio and refuse to rule out supporting the Government’s proposals to roll back LGBTIQ equality in the name of ‘religious freedom'”.

“This was because of a false narrative that anti-LGBTIQ religious voters delivered Labor’s defeat, a narrative Labor’s internal review has not borne out.”

The review found that, ”On the whole, people of faith did not desert Labor, but Labor lost some support among Christian voters – particularly devout, first-generation migrant Christians. Other religious denominations did not swing decisively one way or the other.”

Croome says that despite this, the review calls for Labor to reconnect with churches on social justice matters, and asks whether Labor’s support for marriage equality was an electoral liability.

“Anti-LGBTIQ fear campaigns may have had a limited impact among a tiny minority of socially-conservative religious voters, but it was not enough to swing an election and does not justify abandoning the basic Labor principles of equality and inclusion.” Croome said of the recommendation.

“Labor’s reconnection with churches must emphasise inclusion for all, including LGBTIQ Australians.”

“Meanwhile, a top priority for LGBTIQ advocates must be to show that if Labor abandons our community it will come at a much greater electoral cost than the Party would accrue by annoying a few disaffected anti-LGBTIQ pastors and prelates.”

The ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey has found 60% of Australians believe people of faith should keep their views to themselves.

Just.equal says this runs directly against the intent of the Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill which allows statements of religious belief even if they undermine inclusive workplaces, and humiliate and intimidate other people.

OIP Staff