The Rainbodhi LGBTQIA+ Buddhist Community is calling on all Buddhists to oppose the federal government’s proposed religious discrimination and religious freedom laws.

Rainbodhi is inviting buddhists across Sydney to join them under the banner “Buddhists for Equality” at a rally organised for February 8 to protest the Morrison government’s Religious Discrimination Bill.

Rainbodhi founder and Buddhist monk, Bhante Akāliko said in a press release that the introduction of such privileges would severely impact human rights and create targets for vulnerable communities – which, as Akāliko points out, are not likely to be vulnerable because of their faith.

“The negative impact of the so-called ‘religious freedoms’ legislation was one of the reasons for starting Rainbodhi,” he noted.

“We are genuinely concerned about our community’s well-being and safety. We wanted to bring our community together and support them during this difficult time. We definitely don’t want to see any discrimination against LGBTQIA+ human rights in the name of religion. That would be a harmful backward step for all.

“Religious freedom is not actually under threat in Australia. Personally, I have never faced any discrimination because of my faith as a Buddhist, but I have experienced plenty of prejudice, hatred and even violence due to my sexuality.”

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The proposed bill will likely soil existing federal anti-discrimination laws and allow discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and women seeking specific medical treatments in the name of religion.

The proposed discrimination bill would also give religious charities and service organisations, including those receiving public funding, the right to discriminate against people who seek these services or the people who provide them.

A group of Queensland Satanists has put the potential powers of the Bill in clear perspective. The Noosa Temple of Satan made a submission on the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, listing school chaplaincy programs, street evangelism and public facility access as some of the privileges they plan to use if the new laws pass.

In a statement posted to Facebook last week, the Noosa Temple of Satan said they opposed the Bill but would take full advantage of it if it passed.

“Simply put Noosa Satanists feel the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill is completely unnecessary and a waste of this Federal Government’s time,” the statement read.

“Having said that, should this Parliament vote to enact this legislation then Satanists across Australia will aggressively use this law to ensure that we can access all the privileges it guarantees.”

The Facebook event page for the February 8 protest, “No Right To Discriminate:Protest the Religious Freedom Bill”,  calls out Morrison’s skewed priorities while Sydney “chokes on smoke.”

“The Federal government wants to take the amended legislation to parliament early in 2020. It’s up to us to send a clear message to Morrison, and anyone else thinking about supporting this legislation, that the overwhelming majority of people oppose granting religious organisations, business owners, or whoever else, the right to discriminate!” the event description reads.

Rainbodhi will be stationed at the Yininmadyemi Sculpture (the big bullets in Hyde Park South, near Elizabeth St) and will then move as a group to the protest at Town Hall which begins at 1 pm.

For more info about the protest itself – click here for the Facebook event.

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