Uniting Church LGBTIQ group express concern over religious freedom bill

Uniting Network, the LGBTIQ network within the Uniting Church in Australia, has expressed its concern around the short period to respond to the Exposure Drafts on Religious Freedom and Associated Legislation which was released yesterday.

While the government has consulted widely with some religious groups and conservative organisations, details of the legislation had been kept from LGBTI rights groups and people who are likely to be affected by the proposed new laws.

Co-convenor of the Uniting Church’s LGBTIQ network, Rev. Peter Weeks, has shared his organisation’s view that the legislation is unwarranted. 

“It is our view that there is no need or demonstrable evidence for new religious freedom legislation. It is our position that existing legislation that permits discrimination against LGBTIQ people in religious organisations is not only wrong but not theologically sustainable.”

“The Liberal National Coalition Government put the LGBTIQ community through an unnecessary and vitriolic postal survey campaign over an extended time period. That process created significant mental health issues for the LGBTIQ community that are still reverberating within the community today.”

“The Ruddock Inquiry was held in secret, and the final report withheld from the community for an extended period. During the development of these proposed pieces of legislation, there has been extensive consultations with communities of faith in developing these drafts, however there has been no consultation with the LGBTIQ community, who are the clear targets of these draft legislation.”

“There is just over a month for the community to comment on the exposure drafts which are extensive and their implication to the LGBTIQ community potentially severe.

The group called on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to undertake a significant consultation period with the LGBTIQ community and delay any attempts to bring legislation to Parliament until the middle of 2020 at the earliest.

Attorney General Christian Porter revealed the government’s proposed religious discrimination legislation yesterday, a wide number of LGBTIQ+ groups have expressed alarm regarding some of the wording of the new laws.

OIP Staff

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