Writer Benjamin Law and retired athletes Ian Thorpe and Lauren Jackson are just some of the individuals who have added their voices to Equality Australia’s’ latest online campaign opposing the Religious Discrimination Bill. If enacted the proposed legislation would give people a license to discriminate.

“What constitutes discrimination today will be considered okay tomorrow; it will take away your rights at work, at school and at hospitals when people say offensive things.” Law says in the video.

The campaign encourages people to write to their MP’s, telling them why they oppose the bill in its current form.

Earlier this week Scott Morrison released a second version of the Bill after it was wildly criticised by religious groups and equality activists through thousands of written submissions.

Since the second drafts release, criticism has continued, with the St Vincent de Paul society speaking out after they were the only organisation named by the Prime Minister to be able to discriminate against perspective staff because of religion.

‘We have never required this of people working in our shops’ National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Claire Victory said in a statement,” Certain roles within our conferences and councils which have particular responsibility for overseeing our mission and Catholic ethos are usually filled by Catholics but may also be filled by people who share basic Catholic beliefs.”

The new Bill has reduced the range of professions that are able to object to providing health services to an individual because of their religion, however highlights that doctors, pharmacists nurses, midwives and psychologists could refuse to dispense drugs or perform medical procedures for all patients, such as abortions or the morning after pill.

The Religious Discrimination Bill will affect us all

Tell your MP that our laws need to protect all of us, equally. Tell them that you oppose the Religious Discrimination Bill. https://equalityaustralia.org.au/no-to-discrimination/

Posted by Equality Australia on Thursday, 12 December 2019

This new draft also allows religious hospitals, aged care facilities and accommodation providers such as retirement homes to discriminate against their staff so that they can preserve the “religious ethos” of their workplace.

The first Bill sought to prevent indirect discrimination like employers setting up codes of conduct or social media policies stopping staff from expressing religious views, with the recently settled court case between Israel Folau and Rugby Australia often highlighted in the media as an example. The second draft now prohibits employers from setting a rule that indirectly discriminates on religion, only when the rule is outside of the scope of the employee’s actual employment.

Any change to existing legislation should protect every Australian, and while the second draft of the Bill has tightened and clarified certain elements, it still gives people a license to discriminate against others. Leaving them less protected under the proposed law changes and winding back the legal protections and inclusion that our country has built over decades.

While the primary aim of this bill is to prohibit religious discrimination, the exemptions listed actually allow religious discrimination to continue and be legally protected. This is the second and final draft of the bill before the year’s end and the public can read the Bill and are able to make submission until 31st January 2020.

Equality Australia has broken down how the second Bill will impact all Australians via their website, and urges you to reach out to your MP and say no to discrimination.

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