As an advocate for the LGBTQI community since 1979, we believe this Bill will do lasting damage to our communities, especially our most vulnerable.

The Religious Discrimination Bill came about as a reaction to the overwhelming national support in favour of marriage equality in the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. The Australian Christian Lobby, who led the charge on the “No” campaign is now behind this. 

People’s freedom of thought, faith or belief are already strongly protected under existing laws.

To quote Liberal NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, “We haven’t needed it (Religious Discrimination Bill) for over a 100 years. Why now?” 

What this bill actually does is legislate a right to discriminate, and will undermine existing protections for LGBTQI people.

One of the most worrying aspects of this Bill is the protection for “statements of belief.”

Health practitioners and teachers could make anti-LGBTQI statements on social media under the guise of “religious freedom” and will not face any disciplinary action from professional bodies, who are experts in their respective fields. 

The Bill will also allow faith-based schools and institutions, like hospitals and aged care facilities, to only employ faith-based staff, despite clients of these institutions coming from various faith backgrounds (or none).

To quote Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, “What constitutes discrimination today, will be lawful tomorrow, allowing people to say harmful, insulting and demeaning things. Things like a medical worker telling a person living with HIV that AIDS is a punishment from God, or a person living with disability that their disability is caused by the devil.” 

This Bill must be defeated. Time is running out. We cannot get complacent. Protection from discrimination and bigotry are not handed to us.

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