A report released today contained a shock for those who expected Labor support for the LGBTIQA+ communities. In their report on the Religious Discrimination Bill, Labor members instead supported legislation ‘to protect people of faith from discrimination’.
The Labor committee members said they supported “the right of a religious educational institution to preference staff in employment.”
They continued that they wanted to ensure an institution can “reasonably conduct itself in a way that is consistent with its religious ethos.”
Dissenting report – Senator Janet Rice
Australian Greens Senator Janet Rice called in a dissenting report for a delay to further consideration of the bills. Senator Rice said an appropriate consultation process should first be undertaken. She also said an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act to provide protection for LGBTIQA+ students should occur before further consideration of the Religious Discrimination Bill.
Shield, not sword
Senator Rice recommended any new bill adopt a similar approach to other anti-discrimination legislation. “Operating as a shield, not a sword.”
Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome described the major parties as out of step with community sentiment.
“A recent national poll by YouGov Galaxy found that 77% of Australians oppose special exemptions to allow harmful speech in the name of religion.”
He said a further 62% opposed the right of religious schools to sack LGBT teachers.
“Yet in the two parliamentary reports both major parties either endorsed or left the door open to, a federal Religious Discrimination Bill that would do exactly that.
“Both reports gloss over the key problems with the Federal Bill, problems that have been raised by a wide array of legal experts, community organisations, professional bodies and state governments.”
Rodney Croome said only a tiny number of Australians wanted special legal privileges for religion. But, “Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have abandoned the vast majority of Australians who want equal treatment for all.”
Mr Croome said analysis of one of the inquiries shows the majority of submissions were against the Bill. However, the majority of witnesses called supported it.
Just.Equal today commenced an LGBTIQA+ community survey ahead of the federal election. Click on the link to add your feedback so Just.Equal can tell the major parties what our communities expect of them.
A Federal Labor insider told QNews this afternoon the report may not reflect where labour ends up on the bill.
“The committee members do not decide policy. Caucus does.”
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