The Tasmanian Greens Party has passed a motion condemning the federal government’s controversial Religious Discrimination Bill in the hopes of protecting the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act.

LGBTIQ equality advocates have welcomed the unanimous motion, passed on Sunday at the Tasmanian Greens State Conference in Hobart, which condemns federal intervention that will weaken Tasmanian human rights standards.

The motion noted that the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, which is “under attack”, currently ensures the protection of people with a disability, LGBTIQ people, women and members of racial minorities.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome lauded the Greens for taking a stand against unmoderated discrimination and called for other major Tasmanian political parties to follow suit. 

“I congratulate the Greens on being the first, and thus far the only, political party to condemn the federal bill and stand up for our landmark state legislation,” he said, in a media statement.

“The section of the Tasmanians Anti-Discrimination Act the Federal Government wants to override has fostered inclusion and fairness in Tasmanian society and must be defended by all politicians who care about Tasmania being a better place.

“I call on Tasmania’s Labor and Liberal parties to follow the Greens’ lead and put Tasmania first.”

The conference motion, moved by Greens MHA Cassy O’Connor and Senator Nick McKim, addressed the Religious Discrimination Bill’s impacts on accessible health care, workplace inclusivity and the mental health of Tasmanian minority groups.

The motion also specifically states that the state conference “condemns the Federal Government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill” as it undermines the rights of Tasmanians to make their own laws and allows vulnerable communities to “be humiliated, intimidated, insulted or ridiculed in the name of religion”.

Tasmanian independents Andrew Wilkie and Jacqui Lambie have also previously expressed reservations about the draft Religious Discrimination Bill and the possibility of it encouraging discrimination in the name of religion.

The federal MP for the Tasmanian electorate of Clark, Wilkie spoke in Federal Parliament in July about the risks of introducing federal “religious freedoms” legislation and its undermining of discrimination protections. 

“The introduction of federal religious freedoms legislation puts at risk the right to freedoms enjoyed in Tasmania,” he said.

“This is because the existing Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act provides protection to a number of minority groups including members of the LGBTI+ community and people with a disability.

“The implementation of federal legislation runs the very real risk of overriding these protections and allowing discrimination and hate speech in the name of religious freedom.”

Independent Senator for Tasmania, Lambie told the ABC in early September that she did not support the government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill and that she strongly opposed the overriding of Tasmania’s state anti-discrimination laws.

“The religious freedoms we have in Tasmania, as they are now, they are working pretty well and I don’t have a lot of people around Tasmania talking to me about religious freedom,” Lambie said.

Croome also touched upon Wilkie and Lambie’s reservations, and said the doubts of Tasmania’s independents and Greens were shared by many other Tasmanians.

“Many Tasmanians are scratching their heads about why Tasmania’s Labor and Liberal federal members are stepping aside while the Federal Government proposes to vandalise our excellent legislation,” he said.

 

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