A gay Brisbane pastor has spoken out against the Morrison Government’s controversial Religious Discrimination Bill.
A crowd of LGBTIQ advocates rallied in Brisbane on Saturday (September 4) to oppose the government’s long-delayed “religious freedom” legislation.
Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash is currently working on a third draft, to be released within months.
“This is a religious discrimination bill to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religion,” she told The Australian last week.
However LGBTIQ advocates argue the first two drafts of the legislation, neither of which made it to parliament, went beyond this.
Instead of protections, the proposals would have legalised new forms of discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people, women, people with disabilities and other minorities.
Kevin Green is a pastor at New Farm’s inclusive Metropolitan Community Church. He also chairs Equal Voices Queensland, an advocacy group for LGBTIQ+ Australians of faith.
“Anyone who treats anyone else as a second-class citizen because of their sexuality or gender identity is so very wrong,” he told the rally.
“I am just as God made me, and that’s a gay man. One of the key messages of the Bible is ‘Love thy neighbour’.
“I can’t find any reference to only loving the ones you agree with. It definitely doesn’t say love others more than some.”
Green said he shouldn’t face the sack for his sexuality if employed by a religious organisation.
Nor should queer students have to leave their religious school or be told they’re “wrong” or “against God”, he said.
“This bill will make it possible to be asked to leave place of worship just because you’re perceived as different or ‘wrong’,” he said.
“Some churches will use this legislation to justify harmful ‘conversion therapy’. As a 30 year survivor of it, I can’t and won’t allow that to happen.”
More rallies planned to oppose ‘religious freedom’ laws
The Morrison government is plannine to introduce the revamped draft of the Bill by December.
Organiser Sel Dowd from Equal Love Brisbane said the group will hold more rallies to oppose it.
“The bill would enshrine in law the right of some employers and institutions to refuse service, fire workers and discriminate at will by invoking statements of belief,” Dowd said.
“It would provide bigots in positions of power exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.
“This will not be the last time we gather to rally against the bill and demand equal rights for all.”
MPs weigh in on Religious Discrimination Bill
Federal Labor MP Graham Perrett said until the Coalition unveiled the latest draft, it was not clear if “nasty provisions” would remain.
“The Labor Party been listening to stakeholders and consulting in a fair way about this issue,” he said.
“I’m the deputy chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. I understand protections against discrimination are crucial and human rights are indivisible and universal.
“In government, we’ll demonstrate Labor’s longstanding commitment to the OHCHR’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Human Rights.
“All people have an absolute right to adopt a religion, or not have one. That freedom should not be hindered by government.
“This is particularly important in modern Queensland, in our diverse, multicultural, multi-faith society.
“Labor supports the rights of all Australians to practice their religion. However protections against discrimination should not result in advancing one group against another.”
Perrett said the Australian Human Rights Commission had found problems with the previous Religious Discrimination Bill draft.
That draft Bill “provided protection to religious belief or activity at the expense of other rights”, the AHRC declared.
“Human rights and anti-discrimination protections must apply to all people,” Perrett said.
“The equal application of legal principles is a fundamental basis of Australian society.”
Morrison government accused of poor consultation
Greens Senator Larissa Waters described the government’s proposals so far as “thoroughly out of touch with modern society.”
She warned the previous drafts “used religious freedom as a sword, not a shield” to undermine the rights of others.
“We’re going to be watching this like a hawk in the months to come,” she said.
“They haven’t consulted any of the affected communities. We know they’re talking to the Australian Christian Lobby.
“But they haven’t spoken to the LGBTIQ+ community. The Greens called for the government to consult with the people whose lives will be affected. The government said no.”
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