On the 9th of February, around 1000 members of the LGBTIQ community once again gathered in Melbourne to show their opposition towards the 2nd draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill.
To date, there have been two protests against the bills in Melbourne, as well as sizable demonstrations in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide, with more planned around the country.
But the questions remain: What will it take for our fears to be completely understood by those in power? What will it take to kill the Bill?
“People in the community, are really starting to grasp the seriousness of these laws,” says Ali Hogg, co-convenor of Melbourne based protest group Rainbow Rebellion.
“Initially I think it took people quite a while to grasp the intensity of the laws. But when Scomo went to Sydney to announce the second draft of the bill, it was while Sydney was covered in smoke. Behind the scenes he was trying to push through the bills, but it backfired and drew people’s attentions to it. We have to keep up the momentum now.”
Under the legislation, schools, hospitals, aged-care facilities and other religious-run services would be able to hire and fire on the basis of sexuality and gender identity, and gender-affirming treatment could be denied on religious grounds. Individuals could also be blocked from accessing reproductive health services, even in cases of sexual assault.
“The second draft of this Bill is even worse than the first,” says Roz Ward second co-convenor of Rainbow Rebellion.
“These bills allow discriminatory acts and statements that could target not just LGBTI+ people, but anyone from a minority community. It is appalling that the Morrison government seems to care more about allowing religious schools to expel LGBTI students and sack LGBTI teachers than paying firefighters, evacuating bushfire-hit communities or transitioning away from fossil fuels.”
Ali Hogg says Rainbow Rebellion are planning to hold future rally’s in Melbourne.
“We want to be strategic about it. We are following where things are at in Parliament, and we will base any future actions around that.”
“We will not accept homophobia or transphobia in any form. No one should be given the right to discriminate, it’s time to give Scomo the boot.”
Despite the dark shadow of the Bill looming overhead, Hogg feels encouraged by participation in the rallies and can sense a ground swell of action.
“Having such a large amount of people turn out to our latest rally is a really great sign that things are shifting and that the message is getting out there.”
For more info on Rainbow Rebellion and to find out how you can get involved in future protests, head to the group’s Facebook page.