14,000 signature petition against Religious Discrimination Bill

14,000 signature petition against Religious Discrimination Bill
Image: The Australian Parliament in Canberra. Photo: Thennicke

Equality Australia have partnered with the groups Fair Agenda and Democracy in Colour to deliver a 14,272 signature petition against the government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill, expressing fears that the bill will undermine existing anti-discrimination protections and enshrine exemptions to those laws.

“This Bill creates one set of rights for some Australians, and a different set of rights for everyone else,” Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said.

“The Government promised a Bill in the style of existing anti-discrimination laws and what we have instead will punch holes in protection from discrimination for the majority of Australians.”

“The Attorney-General promised that the Religious Discrimination Bill would not ‘displace’ state or territory laws, but the Bill explicitly overrides existing protections from federal, state and territory anti-discrimination laws through a new carve-out for a ‘statement of belief.’”

“While a statement must not be malicious or likely to harass, vilify or incite hatred of others, the current drafting does not provide critical protections from the broad range of harms LGBTIQ+ people experience daily through bullying or online attacks.  For example, calling a transgender person by their previous name or gender would be protected if founded in a religious belief, even though this can be discrimination under Australian law.”

“The Bill explicitly privileges religious beliefs over secular beliefs. In a multicultural country like Australia – this is simply unacceptable.”

Those concerns were shared by Diana Sayed, campaign manager for women’s advocates Fair Agenda.

“We are very concerned that the bill in its current form will negatively impact women’s access to reproductive healthcare,” Sayed said.

“One person’s religious beliefs should never limit another person’s access to the healthcare they need.”

Democracy in Colour co-director Neha Madhok feared that the proposed legislation would make state-based anti-discrimination laws meaningless.

“This proposed legislation goes too far. It gives license to override state discrimination protections including those based on race, gender, sexuality and disability,” Madhok said.

“With the rise of hate crimes, particularly against people from Muslim communities, we have to protect all minority faith groups from vilification. We need a bill that is balanced and fair for everyone.

“We’re seeing calls for burqa bans, vandalism of temples and religious sites and even campaigns by community groups to prevent the building of mosques. This bill must include a definition of vilification so that there is protection from something like Islamophobia.”

The Morrison Government has set an October 2 deadline for public submissions on the bill, which it intends to put before the Parliament before Christmas.

If you would like to make a submission on the draft Religious Discrimination bill or any of the related amendments you can do so via the Attorney General’s website at https://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/religious-freedom-bills.aspx

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4 responses to “14,000 signature petition against Religious Discrimination Bill”

  1. This is a license to hate.

    I cannot believe that in 2019 we are allowing superstitious nutcase to dismantle our anti-discrimination laws.

    Bring on the revolution.

  2. It is religious apartheid in its most heinous disguise!
    One minority getting control of the majority through their evil belief systems!
    Is this what we want for Australia in the 21st century?

  3. Why doesn’t the government do a plebiscite on ‘religion discrimination’? How come they don’t want to know what the majority of Australians think in this instance? Aren’t these ‘religious’ groups a minority?

    Not that I’ve any faith in the government, but I’ve even less in this case as it’s fronted by a hard right religious fundamentalist.. so basically the CIS white male trumps again..

    This bill will go through to increase the rights of the minority and mostly white religious right and erode the rights of everyone else.. and that’s what ‘religious discrimination’ actually means.

  4. Fact: The hierarchy of Australia’s major religions, the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Fundamentalist, Islam, Lutheran etc. simply want a right which is not permitted to any others.

    They want the right to Discriminate, to vilify others and at the same time they want others to be banned from dishing out the same treatment to them.

    They want the right to sack staff based upon their sexuality, and, inevitably, their gender.

    They want the right to expel children from their largely federally funded schools based upon that child’s sexuality and gender.

    They agree with the secular laws which make it a crime for everyone else to refuse to hire, to sack others on the basis of the gender, sexuality and religion.

    They want themselves to be exempted from those laws.

    Thanks to the behaviour of so many of their cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, imams, rabbis and other employees with regard to child sex abuse the major religious organisations in Australia have lost their power. They have become pariah organisations.

    They should have all their rights removed from them.

    Their tax free status should be abolished and every single one of their leaders and other employees should be subjected to the most stringent of all police clearances before any of them are allowed anywhere near any child.