Mark Latham’s NSW Religious Freedom bill suffers a sudden death

One Nation MP Mark Latham attempts to bring in a Religious Freedom bill in New South Wales came to a sudden halt this week when he failed to garner any support for it.

The Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equity) Bill failed to get enough support for a second reading, with it being voted down 29-4. Government MPs united with the Opposition to turf the bill out of parliament.

“Liberal, Labor, Nationals and Greens combined to defeat my Bill providing protection for people of religious faith against discrimination,” Latham posted to Twitter.

The bill had been criticised by Equality Australia who argued that the bill had a number of elements that would “adversely affect, among others, LGBTQ+ people, women, divorced and unmarried people, and even people of faith.”

Equality Australia welcomed the news that the bill had been defeated, but noted that the Liberal government had suggested it may bring it it’s own Religious Freedom Bill. The organisation said if the government was to proceed with it’s own legislation it must ensure that it “consults with affected communities and deliver laws that protect all of us, equally, including removing carve-outs that currently allow private schools and religious organisations to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.”

The Religious Freedom bill is just one of the pieces of legislation that One Nation has introduced into the parliament that are of concern for rights advocates. Latham has also introduced a Education Bill that has been labeled “the worst legislative attack on LGBTI rights in Australia this century.

The bill calls for any teacher’s mentioning transgender issues or gender fluidity to be fired from the education system. No mentioning of transgender people will be allowed, and additionally has a broad ranging clause that stops teachers from touching on matters that would be considered moral and ethical standards, political and social values, and maters of personal wellbeing and identity including gender and sexuality.

Critics have compared the legislation to Britain’s notorious Clause 28 legislation that was introduced by the Thatcher government in the late 1980’s. The British government later apologized for the legislation in 2009 with Prime Minister David Cameron labeling it as “offensive to gay people”.

A government report on Latham’s Education Bill is expected to be delivered by 7th March 2022.

OIP Staff

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