Liberal senator James Paterson has defended his conservative new bill, saying its provisions for discrimination against same-sex couples and gender-diverse people are what Australians want.

The new bill, which is set to be presented to parliament this week assuming a Yes outcome in the marriage equality postal survey, would override existing anti-discrimination laws.

It specifies that providers of wedding services may refuse to serve people on the basis of specific beliefs, including beliefs against same-sex marriage, sex outside marriage, and trans identities.

Some have criticised Paterson for targeting same-sex couples and trans people in the bill, while conspicuously not allowing for discrimination against marriages on the grounds of other ‘beliefs’.

“But why aren’t you protecting the freedoms of people who conscientiously object to interracial marriage?” tweeted MP Tim Watts.

“We have moved beyond a time when shops had signs about who they would and wouldn’t serve—the marriage discrimination bill threatens this,” tweeted MP and marriage equality activist Alex Greenwich.

Paterson, who claims to support same-sex marriage, told BuzzFeed News that Australians want “protections” allowing them to discriminate against gay and trans couples.

“The only significant issue in which a large proportion of the community are calling for these sorts of protections is on the issue of same-sex marriage,” he said.

“I’ve never heard anyone call for exemptions other than these.”

Fiona McLeod, president of the Law Council of Australia, called the bill an “extraordinary and perilous” attack.

“The bill would allow people to refuse to provide goods and services on the grounds of belief, thought and conscience, taking us well beyond religious beliefs into unchartered waters,” she said.

McLeod said freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right.

Anna Brown of the Human Rights Law Centre called the provisions in the bill “bizarre”.

“It provides immunity to anyone with a particular view on marriage, not just same-sex marriage but all sorts of ideas about marriage, family and gender described as ‘traditional’,” she said.

Social media users have slammed the bill and the discrimination it would allow.

Actor Harry Cook tweeted, “The fact that a bill like Paterson’s can even be considered proves what kind of assholes we have running this country.”

“To put the LGBTI community through this ridiculous, damaging plebiscite and then suggest a marriage equality bill that will increase discrimination is simply shameful,” posted another person.

Turnbull government MPs have largely rejected the conservative bill, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that Senator Dean Smith’s bill “has been around for some months and is clearly a good bill to start with”.

The results of the marriage equality postal survey will be announced tomorrow morning.

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