The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) will oppose any Religious Discrimination Bill as long as Scott Morrison and Christian Porter remain in power.
The Lobby has reached the view that this second draft is inconsistent, lacks compatibility with state laws, and is significantly more complex than the original draft.
The newly appointed Convenor of the Lobby, Jack Whitney said in a statement this week that the second draft of the religious discrimination bill is not only a “slap in the face,” to marginalised communities, it is also an affront to Australia’s once-strong anti-discrimination laws.
” This Coalition Government cannot be trusted to introduce fair, measured and equal laws that protect LGBTQI people, women, people with disability, and faith-based communities,” he said.
“It is almost impossible to contemplate such a bill being applied with our current modern anti-discrimination laws… not to mention completely denigrates the consultation process and signifies that the Coalition Government does not take seriously our concerns”.
Whitney also noted that Scott Morrison and Christian Porter “lack the leadership and clarity to bring together the parliament, the LGBTQI community, and the faith-based communities on this issue”.
Through consultations between both the Coalition Government and the Opposition, the Lobby now believes that there are significant underlying disagreements within the Coalition, while the Opposition cannot formulate a position from this second draft – confirming that federal parliament is both unaware, and under-prepared for the consequences of the Bill’s introduction.
Instead, the NSWGLRL believes that rather than watering down the current legal protections for LGBTQI people, stronger laws are needed to provide further protections for LGBTQI people.
Whitney cited the recent case of homophobic discrimination brought by four former police employees at Newtown Police station as evidence that further protections are necessary.
The Newtown-based officers Christopher Sheehy, Steven Rapisarda, Shane Housego and Christian McDonald, were the focus of a six-month undercover investigation in 2015 after former Newtown Local Area Command Superintendent Simon Hardman filed a complaint against them.
Now head of security at the University of Sydney, Hardman alleged the four men belonged to a “tight-knit group of like-minded homosexuals” and had an “anecdotal reputation for loose morals and reckless behaviour” including “recreational drug use”.
After the four officers sued the NSW Police Force in 2017 over alleged discrimination, maladministration and misuse of public funds, seeking compensation and an apology, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal finally found that the officers had been “subjected to unlawful discrimination” earlier in November this year.
While the officers were found to have been discriminated against, the Lobby points out that the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that frequent usage of insults like “faggots”, “lezzos” and even “gay cunts” didn’t of itself constitute bullying or harassment.
“This inconsistency must end. Improvements to legal protections should come from both NSW and federal parliaments in partnership with one another, guided by the LGBTI community,” the statement reads.