The Australian government will soon introduce their Religious Discrimination Bill to Parliament. The bill threatens the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, women, people with disability and even other people of faith by allowing people to use religion to discriminate against others.
The Bill provides protection to religious belief or activity at the expense of other rights – facilitating harm to members of the community. If passed, the Bill would put LGBTQIA+ people, women and people with disability at risk of intimidation, harmful and discriminatory statements, undermine access to health care and compromise safe and inclusive workplaces.
The Bill allows religious institutions, like Catholic schools, to discriminate against staff and students based on their religious beliefs. It would also allow health practitioners to refuse to treat people based on their religious beliefs – for example, a doctor could refuse to provide birth control to a young unmarried woman.
People of faith must be protected from discrimination, but this Bill is unlike any other anti-discrimination law – it privileges religious beliefs over other human rights. Rights to freedom of religion and other fundamental rights, must be protected and appropriately balanced.
The Religious Discrimination Bill pits us against each other. It gives people who hold a religious belief power over people who don’t. Our laws should protect all of us, equally. The rights of one group cannot come at the expense of the rights of others.
We are working with Equality Australia and other organisations opposed to laws that would take us backwards. You can follow this link to learn more about the detrimental impacts of this Bill.
Instead of prioritising laws that create new forms of discrimination, the government must pass laws that protect us all.
We know that some government MPs have concerns about the Bill. We need to act now.