LGBTQI advocacy organisation, just.equal, is calling on the Morrison government to scratch the Proposed Religious Discrimination Bill after the US’ landmark anti-discrimination ruling.

Yesterday the US Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their sexual orientation in a landmark decision.

The US’ top court ruled six votes to three that the federal law which prohibits discrimination based on sex should also include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Supreme Court ruled to uphold Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination against employees because based on sex, race, nationality – and now, sexuality.

Now, just.equal is focussing this decision back on Australia, where the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill would embolden discrimination or harassment against LGBTQI people, if that conduct is in the name of religion.

Spokesperson for just.equal, Rodney Croome, said that the US Supreme Court’s decision affirms that discrimination-protections for the LGBTQI community are a necessity, and noted that human rights law could protect everyone equally.

“The US Supreme Court has sent a clear message to the Morrison Government that enacting stronger discrimination protections for LGBTQI people is the right thing to do, regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum,” he said.

“The Supreme Court decision confirms LGBTIQ inclusion and dignity to be a civil right that trumps the divisive and dehumanising ideology behind Australia’s flawed Religious Discrimination Bill.

“It’s time for the Morrison Government to withdraw the Religious Discrimination Bill and instead enact a broad-ranging Human Rights Act to protect all rights equally.”

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 The controversial Religious Discrimination Bill has been floating around Australian headlines since December 2018 however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter revitalised the Bill’s prominence in 2019.

While the Bill has been side-lined during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates are waiting for the Bill’s return to parliament later this year or in 2021.

However, the US Supreme Court’s decision has posed a significant blow for the Trump administration this month, and advocates believe the same movement could take place Down Under – especially after the eye-opening effects of the pandemic on the employment and healthcare sectors.

The Inner West Council in Sydney (IWC) officially took a stand against the coalition government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill in April after noting the importance of universally accessible healthcare during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spearheaded by Councillor Pauline Lockie in partnership with Independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, the Inner West Council passed a motion calling for fair and equal discrimination laws that unite, rather than divide.

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 Speaking to Star Observer, Councillor Lockie said that she was happy to see the IWC stand against the proposed religious discrimination bill and the “problematic” effects it could have not just on the LGBTQI community, but on the entirety of Australia.

“I was really pleased to see it gain almost unanimous support because what we are standing against is the fact that it gives people a license to discriminate based on religious beliefs,” she said.

“It’s unprecedented in Australian law and it really stands to have a really horrific effect on many people in the Inner West, as well as Australia.”

Independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich told Star Observer that the motion sent a strong message about the Bill’s necessity and noted the need for an accessible healthcare system for the LGBTQI community during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This motion sends a really clear signal that people across the board do not support the Federal Government’s proposed religious discrimination bill,” he said

“It also sends a message across the political spectrum after support for the motion was given from both Liberal and Labor councillors in the Inner West Council.

“During the COVID-19 crisis, we’re aware more than ever that we shouldn’t be putting up barriers for people accessing healthcare.

“The Federal Government needs to listen to the broad community concern over this legislation as it is both completely unnecessary and offensive piece of legislation.”

 

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