Scott Morrison “The walls are closing in” on people who have religious beliefs

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the release of the Ruddock Review into religious freedom and laid out the government’s plans to introduce new laws that protect people from discrimination on their basis of their religious beliefs.

Speaking to reporters in Canberra the Prime Minister said he’d seen the evidence that the “walls were closing in” religious freedom in Australia.

“Those who think that Australians of religious faith don’t feel that the walls have been closing in on them for a while, they’ve clearly not talking to many people in religious communities or multi-cultural communities in Australia.”

The Prime Minister highlighted Western Sydney as one area where he’d encountered people who were deeply concerned about their ability to express their religious beliefs.

“They said they left where they came from, to come to Australia because of religious persecution in the countries they were leaving. Only now they feel to be facing the same sort of limitations to how they practice their religion in this country, and that made me incredibly sad – that one of the great liberties that Australia has always been known for, in perception, and indeed in their mind in fact, is being curtailed.” Morrison said.

The Prime Minister said they were many examples of how Australians were being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs all around the country, and the Ruddock Review had documented a large number of examples.

Scott Morrison said that while he was aware of people being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs he was not aware of a single example of a religious based school discriminating agaisnt a gay, lesbian or transgender students.

“There’s not one religious school that I’m aware of that would seek to expel any child on the basis of their sexuality, nor is there any threat of that occurring to my knowledge.” Morrison said.

Standing alongside Attorney General Christian Porter the Prime Minister outlined the government’s response to the long awaited Ruddock Review.

Scott Morrison said his government had given thoughtful consideration to the recommendations in the report and would be implementing some of the ideas put forward, alongside other actions that were not included in the report.

The government announced it would be referring concerns about students and teachers being discriminated against by religious based schools to the Australian Law Reform Commission. The government would in turn review a report from the commision in the later half of 2019.

Scott Morrison rejected suggestions that this was a way of removing the issue from political discussion until after the next federal election. The Prime Minister said he has fought hard to address the issue but the opposition was to blame for legislation not being passed.

The government also announced it would bring in a new anti-discrimination law that protected people’s religious beliefs. This would be introduced alongside a new Religious Belief Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission.

The Prime Minister said he hoped to introduce the new laws as soon as possible when parliament returned in the new year, and would not be waiting to take the proposal to an election.

“There is no more fundamental liberty than any human being has than their fundamental right to decide what they believe or not belive.” the Prime Minister said.

Scott Morrison said it was a central part of many people’s identity, and they should be free to hold their beliefs free of harassment, intimidation and discrimination in any way, shape or form.

“Seventy per cent of Australians identify has having a particular religious belief.” Morrison said, noting that while the percentage of people who do not subscribe to religion has been growing, the majority of people are still religious.  “Let’s not forget that seventy percent actually do identify with having a particularly religious faith.”

The Prime Minister highlighted that religious beliefs were higher among ethnic communities including long established parts of Australian society and new arrivals to the country. Greek, Lebanese, Filipino, Italian, Indian communities were highlighted as groups within Australia where over ninety per cent of people followed a religion.

Scott Morrison said if people support “an open tolerant multicultural Australia” then they would be in support of the new laws he is putting forward.

“If you support a multicultural Australia, then you’ll be a supporter of religious freedoms. You’ll understand that religious faith is synonymous with so many ethnic cultures here in Australia. You can’t know where one stops and the other starts. It’s a way of life, and that way of life as part of a harmonious Australian culture overall is critically important for our continued success.” Morrison said.

The Prime Minister said he believed that Australians were united on the issue on protecting religious freedom.

OIP Staff




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