Concerns Surround Mark Latham’s Religious Discrimination Bill

Concerns Surround Mark Latham’s Religious Discrimination Bill

One LGBTQI organisation is urging NSW residents to fight against a proposed bill that could infringe on human rights. 

The NSW Parliament is conducting an inquiry into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020, introduced by One Nation NSW Leader Mark Latham MLC. 

Equality Australia are condemning the bill due to several provisions which could “adversely affect, among others, LGBTQI people, women, divorced and unmarried people, and even people of faith.” 

To help educate the public and inspire action, the organisation is hosting a briefing for LGBTQI individuals and allies about the bill and how to get involved in the campaign. 

 Ghassan Kassisieh, legal director at Equality Australia, said there are three core issues with the proposed legislation. 

“It opens the way for people to discriminate against others by using their religious beliefs as an excuse,” he said.

“If an off-duty police officer made a comment that was anti-LGBTQI or anti-Muslim based on religious beliefs, the police force would not be able to take any steps to address that conduct.

“It undermines the ability of the public service to be held to account when they engage in conduct off-duty that still impacts on others, such as coworkers, or undermines public trust.”

Mr Kassisieh said the second concern is that it opens the door for double-standards as faith-based organisations – such as schools and charities – are permitted to discriminate in areas of service, employment and education even when they receive public funding. 

“The third area is the way it establishes a religious bill of rights which prioritises religion over other human rights in the way the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act deals with and resolves discrimination complaints,” he said.

 Mr Kassisieh said there is little understanding of what the One Nation NSW Religious Bill contains, and people should educate themselves on it.

“There has been little coverage. I think if people knew what this was really about, there would be very little support,” he said.

“Religious diversity is essential, and it is alive and well in NSW. This bill does little to support the diversity of people of faith.

“All it does is grant, in particular, faith-based organisations an ability to impose their views on others.”

Mr Kassisieh encouraged LGBTQI individuals and allies to attend the online briefing on Wednesday, July 22.

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