The Australian Christian Lobby’s attempts to target Independent MP Rebekha Sharkie, over her vote that sunk Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s Religious Discrimination Bill in Parliament, appears to have backfired. 

The federal member for Mayo said on Thursday that she had launched legal action against the Christian Lobby “for breach of copyright and the use of her likeness to denigrate teachers and students of faith as well as those fleeing domestic violence, are separated from their partner, seeking IVF treatment or who are part of the LGBTIQ+ community.” 

Australian Christian Lobby Targets MPs

Ahead of the federal elections, the Lobby had last month started a campaign against Sharkie and other moderate Liberal MPs. Five moderate Liberal MPs  Bridget Archer, Dave Sharma, Trent Zimmerman, Katie Allen and Fiona Martin had crossed the floor in the lower House and voted with Labor and Independents, including Sharkie, to add amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act to protect gay and trans students.

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The amendments removed the existing exemptions for religious schools that allow them to expel students for being LGBTQI. Following the vote, Morrison indefinitely shelved the Religious Discrimination Bill. The Prime Minister recently promised that he would bring back the unamended Bill if his government is reelected. 

Christian Lobby Targets Liberal MPs Who Wrecked Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill

The Lobby distributed flyers and pamphlets that depicted the MPs as crane operators taking a wrecking ball and demolishing a Christian school. Sharkie accused the Lobby of using her image and likeness in thousands of leaflets that were mailed to homes across Mayo. 

She has demanded that the lobby stop using her likeness and send her a written apology. Sharkie reserved the right to demand royalties for use of her image,  and said she will donate the proceeds of any damages to charity organisations including Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, Uniting Church Mt Barker, and Junction Housing on the South Coast and Kangaroo Island. 

Denigrating The LGBTQI Community

Sharkie explained that her vote on the Bill came after her discussions with her constituents and religious organisations. She termed as “inaccurate and unfair” the Lobby’s portrayal of her attacking Christianity and the Church. 

“As a Christian, I support protections against discrimination on the grounds of religion but I will not idly allow this extremist organisation to use my likeness to denigrate the LGBTIQ+ community, people fleeing domestic violence, going through divorce or seeking IVF treatment,” Sharkie said in a statement. 

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The MP pointed out that the “views of the far-right ACL” were not shared by religious organisations like the Uniting Church, Anglican Church and  St Vincent de Paul Society. 

“We know a disproportionate number of LGBTIQ+ Australians experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours. I stand with the vast majority of the community to oppose the Religious Discrinination Act as it was proposed,” said Sharkie, adding that she supported the right of faith-based schools to employ people of their faith. 

Sharkie said that Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill went beyond protecting perople of faith from discrimination and could could “cause potential harm for vulnerable members of our community including young people and people living with disability.”

 

 



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