Public submissions to the religious freedom review will be kept secret, in an unusual move by the federal government.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s department said submissions will not be published, unlike in ordinary parliamentary inquiries, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
“However, where individuals provide consent, submission extracts may be included in public materials.”
The department yesterday clarified that releasing submissions will be determined by “whether individuals have provided consent”, although the online consent form specifies that submissions “will not be published in their entirety”.
The inquiry, led by Philip Ruddock and prompted by concerns around same-sex marriage and religion, is expected to attract submissions from major churches and religious advocates.
LGBTIQ advocacy group Just.equal has launched a petition to the inquiry, opposing any rollback of anti-discrimination laws and calling for a charter of rights for all Australians.
“The current ‘religious freedom’ movement has nothing to do with genuine freedom and everything to do with punching holes in Australian laws that protect LGBTIQ people and other minorities from discrimination and disadvantage,” said spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh.
“The threat is too great to be left to lawyers and academics to argue over, which is why we are giving everyday Australians the opportunity to have their voices heard through our petition.”
Hinton-Teoh said the move to water down anti-discrimination laws in the name of religious freedom affects more than just LGBTIQ people.
“Granting legal privileges to discriminate on the grounds of religion potentially disadvantages minority faiths, women and interracial couples, as well as LGBTIQ people, so our petition is open to everyone to sign,” he said.
“We believe the best way to protect genuine religious freedom and LGBTIQ equality is for there to be an Australian charter of rights.”
As the religious freedom inquiry continues, The Greens are reportedly in discussions with Labor to introduce a bill of rights before the Senate.