Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is reportedly pushing for religious beliefs to be exempt from employment contracts, to protect views such as those expressed by Israel Folau.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of Coalition MPs are planning to push for stronger religious freedom laws after the party received strong backing from religious voters at the federal election.

The laws would protect views like those expressed by Israel Folau, whose four-year contract with Rugby Australia was terminated as a result of his recent anti-LGBTI social media posts.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Joyce said “you can’t bring people’s faith beliefs into a contract”.

“Your own views on who God is, where God is or whether there is a God should remain your own personal views and not part of any contractual obligation,” he said.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter is expected to present a Religious Discrimination Act to parliament as soon as July, acting on a pre-election commitment to protect religious people against discrimination.

Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – who voted against marriage equality during the postal survey – said the election marked a “new dawn” on religious freedom, calling for a standalone Religious Freedom Act that would give greater weight to any demands set out by Christian schools and church leaders.

She also said the government didn’t need to wait for the findings of the Australian Law Reform Commission review into religious exemptions.

“Whilst the ALRC is not due to report until [April] 2020, given its diverse and broad terms of reference, I believe that the recent election has reinforced the need for more immediate legislative action,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“This is vitally important to not only address our concerns but afford protection against these constant incursions from Labor, the Greens and their acolytes.”

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