The new Australian Labor Party (ALP) leader Anthony Albanese pledged this week to protect LGBTI Australians.
Following election defeat for the ALP in May, leader Albanese weighed in on the government’s controversial plan to change laws in the name of ‘religious freedom’, in an interview with local media Out in Perth.
He said his track record as a politician proved he stood up for LGBTI rights.
A draft of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government Religious Discrimination Bill released earlier this month revealed it would weaken anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI people and make changes to equal marriage laws.
But, Albanese promised. ‘we [the ALP] won’t accept any discrimination on the basis of – for example – people’s sexuality or gender identity’.
‘We don’t think it’s okay to discriminate against people on the basis of faith either, but it’s not okay to discriminate of the basis of sexuality or anything else’ he told out in Perth.
He said Catholic priests have a right to not conduct certain marriage ceremonies if they want, but cases of people refusing to bake cakes for same-sex couples was ’nonsense’.
It is ‘all about bloody discrimination’ he said.
LGBTI rights groups warn the new religious discrimination rules could be used to harm LGBTI people.
Albanese also weighed in on the case of rugby star Israel Folau.
Folau, a devout Christian, posted an image to social media in April saying ‘hell awaits homosexuals’. His employer, Rugby Australia, fired him for breaching their code of conduct. He has since raised funds to take them to court.
Albanese said some of the reasons Folau said people would go to hell are an option.
But, he said ‘t’s not optional what your sexuality is, who you are, and that’s why it’s bigoted, and it needs to be called out as such.’
Likewise, Albanese said conversion therapy should not be protected by religious freedom laws.
‘That is seeking to impose their views on people’ he explained.
‘It also sends such a harmful message to young people coming to terms with who they are, to have people in society suggest that it’s optional.’