Ian Thorpe speaks out against Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill

ian thorpe religious discrimination bill transgender gay politics
Image: Channel Seven/Sunrise

Ian Thorpe has spoken out against the Morrison government’s contentious Religious Discrimination Bill, saying it would allow “state-sanctioned discrimination.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is restarting debate on the long-delayed and contentious draft laws on Tuesday.

Morrison argues the legislation is to protect Australians of faith from discrimination on the basis of their religion.

But on Tuesday Ian Thorpe joined with Equality Australia and others to condemn the Bill at Parliament House.

“What this is, is it becomes state-sanctioned discrimination,” the Olympic icon and LGBTIQ advocate said.

“To give rights for … people while excluding another group of people, that for me, is discrimination.

“We should consider what this place is that we are in, what it represents and how it represents each and every one of us.”

The former athlete and LGBTIQ campaigner said the bill was in its third iteration but has “no friends in Parliament”.

“The first time it came around, the second time it has come around. Now this is the third time for this bill,” he said.

“It something that we would prefer to see squashed… We want to see it disappear.”

Thorpe explained on Tuesday that growing up, he was raised in a Christian household.

“I believe that people of faith should be able to live according to their beliefs and be protected from discrimination,” he said.

“But this bill goes further, allowing discrimination against not just LGBTIQ+ people, but women, people with disability and other people of faith.

“The parliament must come together to oppose this bill.

“The government must go back to the drawing board to deliver laws that protect all of us, equally.”

Ian Thorpe speaks out on youth mental health

Ian Thorpe addressed Scott Morrison’s latest changes to the draft bill package that would protect gay students from expulsion at religious schools, but not transgender students.

“[Trans students] are a group of people that we should be doing anything we can to protect,” Thorpe said.

He said he works for a mental health organisation that supports young people.

“We know that 70% of young people will not seek clinical or professional help for their mental health,” he said.

“When it comes to the biggest killer of people that are in their youth, it is suicide.

“[The risk] is exponentially increased if you happen to be gay.

“And it’s even worse when we look at the statistics of someone who is part of a transgender community.”

Transgender student asked to leave school

Year 12 student Olivia Stewart, who is transgender, said on Tuesday a former school had “directly discriminated” against her.

When the teenager came out as trans, she said the school asked her to leave.

“They told me I was very likely to be bullied by people. [They said] my twin brother in the same year at the school would also be bullied,” Olivia said.

“They told us that his leadership potential would be jeopardised.

“The school said that if I would just leave this term, I would not have to pay the rest of the term’s fees.

“This left me without a school going into the new year and with nowhere to go.”

Equality Australia says Religious Discrimination Bill ‘damaging and dangerous’

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown called on the Morrison government must scrap the “damaging and dangerous” Religious Discrimination Bill.

“This is a bill that pits one set of rights for community members against another set of rights,” she said.

“We are going to see years of progress towards equality in our society take a step backwards.

“It undermines inclusion at work, in service settings, including health care.

“Statements that are unlawful today under state and federal law will be lawful tomorrow under this legislation.

“Statements that are demeaning, offensive and insulting, like a disability worker saying to a young person with a disability that your disability is caused by the devil.

“Or a waiter saying to a lesbian couple that their relationship is an abomination against God.

“It’s a bill that divides Australia. We need laws that protect all of us equally, that unite us around shared values of equality and fairness.”

If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

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  1. Terry
    8 February 2022

    I’m still bemused as to the sudden urgent need for this legislation in the first place. Where are the headlines bemoaning the downtrodden religious underclass minority. Oh that’s right it was marriage equality that created a “perceived possibility” of maybe there might be an opportunity to perhaps have the occasional religiously discriminatory barmy and argy bargy; but there certainly weren’t, isn’t and aren’t innocent priests being thrown off rooftops, or bigoted zealots missing out on housing or work promotions by the dozens, let alone the hundreds. Nor are there imams being beaten to death for their beliefs (@least not in this country). So why build an election platform on this and make it so suddenly urgent to get it up and running as they scrabble to the bottom of the cesspit? Why?

  2. C
    10 February 2022

    We must demand for a ICAC.

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