Attorney-General says new Religious Discrimination Bill is coming

mark dreyfus attorney-general religious discrimination bill labor albanese government cross
Images: Nine, Pixabay

LGBTIQ+ advocates have warned the Albanese government to “avoid the mistakes” of their predecessors after Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus discussed plans for a new Religious Discrimination Bill.

Speaking on ABC Radio, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus reiterated the Albanese government’s plans to introduce a bill this term.

“It’s something that we will do, as we’ve said, in the course of this Parliament,” he told RN Breakfast.

“At its core – at the core of even [the Coalition’s] bill – there’s an appropriate structure of anti-discrimination law, bringing in a prohibition on discriminating against people on the grounds of their religious beliefs.

“I think we’ve made our position clear. It is a matter again of drafting legislation, which we will be doing. We will be bringing legislation to the Parliament.”

But LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia warned any new bill must “avoid the mistakes” of the Morrison government’s failed version.

“Our laws should protect all of us, equally. No matter who we are, whom we love or what we believe,” CEO Anna Brown said.

Brown said the Coalition’s failed legislation “would have wound back protections for women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disability and people of faith.”

The Morrison government’s proposal would also have undermined “inclusive workplaces and access to judgement-free healthcare.”

“Labor must avoid the mistakes of the previous government,” Brown said.

Labor made pre-election commitment on religious discrimination bill

Before the election, Labor committed to the “extension of the federal anti-discrimination framework to ensure Australians aren’t discriminated against because of their religious beliefs or activities.”

“Labor believes all Australians have the right to live their lives free of discrimination,” Mark Dreyfus said in February.

“Labor believes religious organisations and people of faith have the right to act in accordance with the doctrines, beliefs or teachings of their traditions and faith.

“But as we have made clear from the outset, any extension of the federal anti-discrimination framework should not come at the expense of existing laws that protect Australians from other forms of discrimination.”

Anna Brown said Labor’s pre-election statements “are a welcome indication it is committed to ensuring protections for people of faith don’t result in discrimination against others”.

However it’s still unclear what form the protections will take. Brown warned the Albanese government “must ensure any reform raises the standard for everyone and doesn’t override existing protections.”

Discrimination against students and teachers

Equality Australia points to recent public examples of religious schools discriminating against LGBTQ+ students as well as teachers.

It shows the “urgent” need to remove “outdated” religious exemptions in order to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.

The group want the Albanese government to do so in its first hundred days.

“Labor must first act swiftly to fill gaps in protection for LGBTQ+ students and teachers in religious schools,” Brown said.

“And extend those same protections to all staff in any faith-based organisations, and LGBTQ+ people accessing services from religious providers.

“In 2013, the Labor Government removed religious exemptions from the aged care sector. Faith-based providers embraced the opportunity to promote inclusion.

“It’s time to ensure that all goods and services are delivered without discrimination and that staff in these services are protected at work.”

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  1. Paul
    9 June 2022

    And that is why I never vote for both major political parties. I told you so!

  2. Noel
    11 June 2022

    I refuse to believe that a so-called religious discrimination bill is even needed in Australia. It would never get a vote from me and I think it is a non-issue. Am quite angry about this being raised yet again!

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