OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten is expected to come out swinging against religious belief being used as a means to justify sexuality-based discrimination during a speech at the Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) National Conference this morning.

Following months of criticism after announcing his attendance for what many LGBTI community members consider to be a homophobic lobby group, Shorten will speak to ACL members for the first time about his personal faith values of equality and inclusion that have guided his in life and in politics.

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The Star Observer obtained extracts from the conference’s headline speech this morning, where the Opposition Leader attacks religious organisations that use their beliefs to warrant persecution and intolerance of the LGBTI community.

“Condemning anyone, discriminating against anyone, vilifying anyone is a violation of the values that we all share,” the speech says.

“A violation that can never be justified by anyone’s faith or belief.

“Not yours, not mine. Not anyone’s.”

Shorten is also expected to say that he will not remain silent when bodies purporting to share the same religion as him use doctrine to preach hatred and judgement.

“In our society, under our laws, whether we be Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists – we are all Australians and we are all equals,” the speech says.

“First, last and always equal under the law of the land. So when I hear people invoking the scriptures to attack blended families… I cannot stay silent. I do not agree.

“When I see people hiding behind the bible to insult and demonise people based on their sexuality…I cannot stay silent. I do not agree.”

Turning his attention specifically to the issue of marriage equality, the Opposition Leader criticises the “slippery slope” argument often used to attack efforts towards extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“When I hear people allege that ‘God tells them’ that marriage equality is the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality… I cannot stay silent. I do not agree,” he says.

“These prejudices do not reflect the Christian values I believe in.”

In the speech extracts, Shorten also acknowledges that his views will not sit well with members of the ACL but said that his attendance at the conference allowed for an exchange of differing views regarding religious teaching.

“I know some of my policy ideas will not win acceptance with the Australian Christian Lobby,” he says.

“But the great thing about this country is that we can meet like this, share our ideas and visions respectfully and boldly, assured that the tenets of our shared faiths and philosophical world views can help us shape a free and confident nation in which the dignity of all persons is enhanced by laws and policies determined after mature political deliberation.”

In 2012 Shorten voted in favour of marriage equality but the motion was defeated.

The ACL National Conference starts from 8:45am and the Star Observer will be in attendance and live-tweeting proceedings on @davidFalexander and @star_observer.

The full text of the extracts from Bill Shorten’s key note address can be read below:

“I have spent my working life, both representing workers and as parliamentarian, trying to measure up to their standard of compassion and empathy.
To answer the clarion call to care for the vulnerable, to speak up for the powerless, to reject hatred and intolerance, to help the poor and to pursue peace.
Of course, none of these virtues belongs to Christianity alone.
Nor does a belief in social justice necessarily depend upon the teachings of Christ.
No faith has a monopoly on compassion.
No religion ‘owns’ tolerance or charity or love.
Australia is full of decent and generous people of good conscience, drawn from all faiths and none.
And Australians rightly expect our national leaders, to respect the
constitutional separation of Church and State.

_______________________________

And no faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion.
As you know, better than I, the Bible teaches us that we are all immutably imperfect.
Condemning anyone, discriminating against anyone, vilifying anyone is a violation of the values that we all share.
A violation that can never be justified by anyone’s faith or belief.
Not yours, not mine.
Not anyone’s.

_______________________________

In our society, under our laws, whether we be Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists – we are all Australians and we are all equals.
First, last and always equal under the law of the land.
So when I hear people invoking the scriptures to attack blended families…I cannot stay silent.
I do not agree.
When I see people hiding behind the bible to insult and demonise people based on their sexuality…I cannot stay silent.
I do not agree.
When I hear people allege that ‘God tells them’ that marriage equality is the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality…I cannot stay silent.
I do not agree.
These prejudices do not reflect the Christian values I believe in.

_______________________________

I know some of my policy ideas will not win acceptance with the Australian Christian Lobby.
But the great thing about this country is that we can meet like this, share our ideas and visions respectfully and boldly, assured that the tenets of our shared faiths and philosophical world views can help us shape a free and confident nation in which the dignity of all persons is enhanced by laws and policies determined after mature political deliberation.”

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