Tasmanian MLC moves motion to protect state anti-discrimination laws

Independent Tasmanian MLC Meg Webb today called on the Legislative Council to both defend vulnerable Tasmanians and the State’s nation-leading Anti-Discrimination legislation from the federal government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.

LGBTIQ+ advocates and opponents of the bill have raised concerns that the ‘religious freedom’ laws would have the power to override state based anti-discrimination protections after Attorney General Christian Porter released the draft legislation last month.

“I am extremely proud of the protections available to vulnerable Tasmanians under our nation-leading Anti-Discrimination legislation,” the Member for Nelson said.

“Twice before, the Legislative Council has defended that legislation from being eroded in recent years. We can again show leadership.”

“The proposed Federal legislation poses a direct threat to our exemplary State law in this area – it risks making our state’s law unworkable and will leave a range of vulnerable Tasmanians less protected.”

Webb said she wants to support the State Government and encourage it to strongly defend Tasmania’s rights to best protect its vulnerable citizens.

“Our current Anti-Discrimination laws protect the rights of people of faith while also ensuring that statements that purport to be religious are not given special legal status over and above other forms of communication.

“Vulnerable groups currently protected under State law would lose protections against discrimination and hate speech under the proposed Federal legislation.

“These people include: people living with disability, LGBTIQ people, women, members of racial and religious minorities, people in unmarried relationships and single parents.”

Webb said her Notice of Motion is an opportunity for the Upper House to provide the State Government with a statement of strong support in defending our State laws and the protections they provide.

Tasmanian LGBTI equality advocates have welcomed the motion calling for the state Upper House to oppose the proposed federal override of that part of the state Anti-Discrimination Act that prohibits humiliating and intimidating conduct.

“I call on all Upper House members who oppose bullying and believe in an inclusive Tasmania to vote for Meg Web’s motion.” Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome said.

“In 2017 the Upper House opposed a push by the State Government to water down our law against humiliating and intimidating conduct, and now it has an opportunity to stand up to a Federal Government that wants to do the same.”

“The Federal Government has no right to lower the high human rights standards the Tasmanian Parliament has repeatedly upheld.”

“The Tasmanian Government has repeatedly and often angrily stood up to meddling by Canberra politicians, and it would be a clear double standard for it not to do the same in this case.”