Activists are warning there isn’t much time to protest the Morrison government’s controversial Religious Discrimination Bill before the proposed reforms are passed, with LGBTI people and allies encouraged to voice their concerns at a rally in Melbourne on October 26.
A draft Religious Discrimination Bill was released in August and was criticised by activists for allowing discrimination against LGBTI people on the basis of religious belief and overriding existing anti-discrimination laws.
Activist and rally organiser Ali Hogg described the bill as “alarming” and told the Star Observer it will have “huge ramifications” for the LGBTI community if it passes.
“We knew it was going to be bad, but it’s a million times worse than we thought it was going to be,” Hogg said.
“Just having legislation like this that exist, that exempts people from anti-discrimination laws, will have a real psychological impact on LGBTQI people, especially since we already see such alarming suicide rates within our community.”
A rally to oppose the bill is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on October 26 at 1pm at the State Library of Victoria, and will include a march through the city.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt and Executive Director of Change.org Sally Rugg are among the confirmed speakers for the event, which will be Auslan interpreted.
“They [the Morrison government] want to pass the bill by Christmas so it’s important we do something about this now,” Hogg said, adding that it is “urgent” the LGBTI community understands what is at stake.
A similar rally was held in Melbourne in August and attracted an estimated 500 people, but Hogg said she hopes to see a greater turnout this time around.
“We don’t have time to build a strong, vibrant campaign over several years. We’ve only got a few months until the government passes this bill.”
Although many LGBTI people are still reeling from the marriage equality campaign, Hogg said it is important to “send a message” before it is too late.
“I think people’s exhaustion will affect the campaign, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight,” Hogg said.
“Most people of faith don’t want to see this bill pass. We’re going to do everything we can to stop it and we hope people will join us along the way.
“Even though we’re exhausted, we need to keep fighting.”