Stoker says Zrieko case shows Religious Discrimination laws needed

Senator Amanda Stoker, the Assistant Minister to Attorney General, says the situation of ALFW player Haneen Zreika illustrates why the Morrison’s government’s Religious Discrimination Bill is required.

The AFLW player from has opted to sit out this week’s game because she does not want to wear the special jumper the club is wearing in relation to the games’ Pride round.

Appearing on the Paul Murray Show on Sky News on Thursday afternoon, Senator Stoker said if the government’s Religious Discrimination bill had been in passed Zrieko would have protection.

“If we had the Religious Discrimination Bill in place in this country we would have legal protection to ensure this women didn’t face prejudice in her ability to continue to be a part of the team. just because of a deeply held religious position.”

Senator Stoker also said the situation showed why sporting bodies should not comment on political issues.

“It really does highlight the dangers that come when sport, which is supposed to be about bringing people together, starts to dabble in matters of politics. When it comes to matters of politics there’s always going to be genuinely held divisions, it’s the same when those political issues start to touch upon people’s deeply held religious beliefs.

“Sport should stay away from this, I think that is a really important lesson that we should take away from the Rugby Australia experience, and now this example.” Senator Stoker said.

Bronwyn Bishop says she’s not a supporter of the Religious Discrimination Law

Former Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop, who was appearing alongside Stoker on the show, disagreed saying the government’s proposed legislation would do nothing to solve the problem.

“I honestly don’t think legislating in this area is going to solve the problem, I think it’s going to create more problems.” Bishop said.

The former Liberal member said she’d always believed the protections offered in the Australian Constitution were enough.

“I don’t that the legislation as proposed, or amended, or argued about, is going to solve the problem. I think we just have to uphold freedom of speech and be firm about it.”

Senator Stoker she agreed with Bishop’s view, despite being one of the loudest proponents of the laws currently being considered by parliament. Senator Stoker said she would rather have seen the existing discrimination acts being adjusted.

“I completely agree with you.” Senator Stoker said. “It’s primarily a cultural issue and is best solved at the level of culture. The best solution for problems that we see around the religious freedom of Australians is to remove the barrier to that expression that exist in other acts, but that’s not going to happen in the current political climate.

“In circumstances where we can’t take down those barriers to people being able to express their religious beliefs without prejudice, then the next best solution is to level that playing field.” Senator Stoker said.

Update: 28-01-22 Haneen Zrieka has released a statement regarding her decision to not play.

Graeme Watson

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