Sporting bodies join forces against Religious Discrimination Bill

Seven of Australia’s peak sporting organisations have criticised the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill in a submission to the Attorney General’s office.

The Coalition of Major Professional & Participation Sport (COMPPS) – which is comprised of Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, Rugby Australia, Netball Australia, the AFL, NRL and FFA – have delivered a document to Christian Porter raising concerns about how the bill would affect the games’ commitment to inclusion and holding role models to a higher standard.

“COMPPS members recognise and publicly acknowledge the importance that sporting bodies, from local clubs through to National Sporting Organisations, reflect the diversity of the communities of which they are a part and that every person is treated with respect and dignity and protected from discrimination,” the submission reads.

“Our Members support the protection of religious freedoms.”

“However, in our submission, the Bill goes beyond what is required to protect the rights of Australians to make statements of belief without fear of discrimination and significantly limits the efforts of COMPPS members and their associated clubs and organisations to create inclusive, diverse, accessible and safe communities within which Australians can participate in and enjoy sport.”

The submission outlines general and key concerns with the bill across a six-page document. COMPPS raise issue with “uncertainty in the interpretation of important concepts” and “lack of clarity in the way the Bill intersects with other anti-discrimination legislation.”

“The requirement (in clause 8(2)(d)) to assess employee conduct rules against the impact such rules have on the ability of an employee to hold or engage in that employee’s religious belief or activity, in addition to other tests of reasonableness contained in clause 8, is unnecessary and affords undue emphasis to the religious rights of employees, at the expense of other rights.”

In the draft bill’s current form, a ‘statement of belief’ would not be considered as discriminatory under Commonwealth, state or territory law. LGBTIQ+ advocates have repeatedly raised concerns over the Bill’s potential effects on state anti-discrimination laws.

“We are concerned that the breadth of the definition of ‘statement of belief’ and the absence of a clear test within the bill to assess such beliefs could lead to the protections in the bill being used in bad faith to justify statements which are otherwise discriminatory or against the values or beliefs espoused by COMPPS members.”

“The bill essentially gives the person who makes statements of belief a privileged position over other rights, which does not accord with global human rights doctrines or the underlying intentions of sport to promote respectful relationships.”

COMPPS’ submission recommends the government remove clauses that pertain to employee conduct rules, specifically clauses 8(3)-(4) which would make businesses with revenues over $50million unable to stifle or prevent religious expression under Australian law.

COMPPS’ submission is one of almost 7000 submitted to Attorney General Christian Porter on the draft legislation.

OIP Staff

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