Attorney General Christian Porter has sought to play down fears that the government’s planned religious discrimination bill will water down or remove existing anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQI people at state and territory levels.
Porter told Guardian Australia earlier today that the bill “is not intended to displace state law nor will it import specific provisions of international law”
Equality advocates have welcomed that commitment but are still concerned that the bill will impinge on LGBTQI people and want to see what the government is drafting.
“Tasmania has the strongest discrimination and hate speech protections for LGBTI people in the nation, and we are concerned federal legislation could water down these protections in the name of religious freedom,” Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome said.
“We welcome Mr Porter’s commitment, but we still fear the devil will be in the detail.”
“For example, the Government has flagged religious freedom amendments to marriage and charity law that could allow religious organisations to discriminate in ways that are currently not allowed in Tasmania.”
“This would impact not only LGBTI people, but also single parents, divorcees, de facto partners, people with disabilities, and anyone who falls foul of traditional religious precepts.”
“We want Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese to give an iron-clad commitment that strong state and territory discrimination protections, like those in Tasmania, will not be watered down under any new federal religious discrimination and freedom law.”
According to Guardian Australia, Tasmanian Shadow Attorney-General Ella Haddad has written to her federal Labor colleagues to seek a commitment to ensuring Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws are not affected by any federal legislation.
The only state or territory to do so, Tasmanian does not allow religious organisations, including schools, hospitals and welfare agencies, to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, relationship status or marital status, and there have been fears that the Federal Government is seeking to undermine this or prevent it from becoming a legal norm in other parts of the country.
Tasmanian hate speech laws prohibit incitement to hatred and offensive language, including if it is in the name of religion.