The Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) group has taken aim at Federal Opposition Leader and Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese over his silence on the federal government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill. 

PFLAG National President Shelley Argent said Albanese had been “too quiet” on the issue, prompting PFLAG to conduct a leaflet drop across his electorate of Grayndler in Sydney’s inner west.

 

 

Explaining the move, Argent said: “LGBTI people, their friends and families are very disappointed in his silence and lack of commitment on this issue. We have a much higher expectation of him in this debate and call on him to publicly back freedom from discrimination.”

The leaflet calls on Albanese to say “no” to discrimination in the name of religion and to support “equal rights for all, not special rights for some”.

“The Bill being put forward by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been designed by the ‘No’ Campaign who lobbied against marriage equality in 2017,” it states.

“Now they want to punch holes in all state and federal anti-discrimination laws, including the Fair Work Act, and weaken hate-speech laws to undermine LGBTI equality.”

In a media statement issued to the Star Observer, Argent noted the Grayndler electorate’s strong support for LGBTI rights such as marriage equality, and called on Albanese to represent the views of his constituents. 

“The people of Grayndler voted 80 percent in favour of marriage equality in the postal survey, and I think they expect Mr Albanese as the local member and Labor leader not just to support equality, but to defend the LGBTI community from this renewed attack by religious conservatives trying to turn back the clock,” she said.

She said the Religious Discrimination Bill proposed by the government would lead to a range of situations where LGBTI people and other minorities could be lawfully discriminated against. 

These include: allowing a doctor to refuse treating the child of a same-sex couple because “It’s against the Bible”; allowing a hotel receptionist to tell an unmarried heterosexual couple that God does not approve of their relationship; and allowing a work colleague to taunt a person with a disability for being “marked by their sin”. 

In its current form, the draft Religious Discrimination Bill would also give the Federal Attorney General special powers (Section 41) to override state legislation that promotes inclusion for Section 41) people, people with disabilities, racial minorities, women and anyone who falls foul of traditional religious dogma.

This could include overriding state laws to allow the promotion of so-called gay conversion ‘therapy’, Argent said.

As reported by the Star Observer yesterday, the Andrews Labor Government in Victoria is currently seeking consultation with Victorians to help shape legislation to ban the discredited ‘therapy’. 

Argent said she hoped the leaflet would help voters understand how “one sided and awful” the draft Bill was, and put pressure on Albanese to take action.

“Australia needs Mr Albanese to stand up and speak out. His ongoing silence over this legislation is not acceptable and lacks leadership.”

She said PFLAG would also be placing advertisements in NSW newspapers against the legislation.

 

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