Now Reading
Will a ‘religious freedom’ enquiry undermine marriage equality in Australia?

Will a ‘religious freedom’ enquiry undermine marriage equality in Australia?

Philip Ruddock leaning on outdoor rail

An enquiry into religious freedom in Australia could lead to an ‘erosion of gains made in 2017’ after the country finally legalized same-sex marriage.

Shortly after the results of a national survey revealed the majority of Australians supported marriage equality, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the snap enquiry.

It was allegedly called to appease conservatives opposed to marriage equality. The enquiry will be headed by former Federal Minister Philip Ruddock and will review the country’s protection of religious freedom.

LGBTI advocacy group, just.equal, warned the enquiry could undo all of the hard work gained by achieving marriage equality.

‘The current ‘religious freedom’ movement has nothing to do with genuine freedom and everything to do with punching holes in Australian laws that protect LGBTIQ people and other minorities from discrimination and disadvantage,’ said just.equal spokesperson, Ivan Hinton-Teoh.

Just.equal launched a petition to send a message to the enquiry. It wanted people to show they ‘oppose further discrimination against LGBTIQ people, women and other Australians under the guise of “religious freedom’.

‘The threat is too great to be left to lawyers and academics to argue over which is why we are giving everyday Australians the opportunity to have their voices heard through our petition,’ Hinton-Teoh said.

“This is a matter of national values because it is unAustralian to allow discrimination.”

Private submission

Just.equal also called for the religious freedom enquiry to make its submissions public. The call came after a news report that the submissions will not be released publically.

‘The misuse of religious freedom to justify discrimination is an important issue for many LGBTI Australians and we have a right to know what different interest groups are influencing our federal government,’ Hinton-Teoh said.

‘It is the height of hypocrisy for an inquiry into freedom of religion, conscience and speech to keep its submissions under wraps.

‘It is astonishing that the Turnbull government would make submissions secret when this review could entirely re-shape Australian anti-discrimination law.

‘It begs the question, what has the Government got to hide?’