LGBTI Australians are urging their community to fight the government’s plan to change laws in the name of ‘religious freedom’.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has delayed its controversial Religious Discrimination Bill. The Bill would weaken anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI people and make changes to marriage laws.
While the details are still vague on what the Bill will like look, the government released some details on Tuesday (2 July). It would ‘make it unlawful to discriminate against people on the ground of their religious belief or activity’. It also seeks to establish a Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Bill also says it will make amendments to ‘marriage law, charities law and objects clauses in existing anti-discrimination legislation’.
Fight the Religious Freedom Bill
Advocates said people should use the delay to make sure their voices are heard in the consultation.
‘It seems the Government are recognising that the majority of Australians want to see this done right – providing a shield of protection for people of faith, without handing anyone a sword that can be used to harm others,’ said Lee Carnie, director of Legal Advocacy at Equality Australia.
‘Allowing for more time to consult instead of rushing through the Bill is a good sign – it gives us a chance to make our concerns heard.’
Carnie added: ‘religious conservative groups want a license to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people – pushing hard to retain laws that allow religious schools to exclude LGBTQ students and teachers and new laws for people to express hateful and harmful views with impunity’.
Equality Australia have started a petition to call for LGBTI people to be included in the consultation process. PM Morrison has promised to speak to many people about the laws. But he has not indicated if he will consult with the LGBTI community.
‘Now it’s time for Scott Morrison to listen to our concerns and bring in anti-discrimination laws that protect people of faith, women and LGBTIQ+ people equally,’ Carnie said.
Long-time advocate, Rodney Croome, also urged the government to consult with LGBTI people on the Bill.
‘It is vital the Government hears diverse LGBTI community voices, especially those concerned about the potential erosion of LGBTI legal rights in the name of religious freedom,’ he said.