After election review, Labor urged to oppose religious discrimination bill

labor leader anthony albanese religious discrimination bill election review rodney croome
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LGBTIQ advocates have called on Labor to oppose contentious provisions in the government’s draft religious discrimination bill in the wake of the party’s post-election review.

Responding to Labor’s 2019 election postmortem released on Thursday, just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said the review “failed to present concrete evidence the party’s election defeat was because of the defection of large numbers of religious voters.”

“After the election, Labor developed an allergy to LGBTIQ equality,” he said.

“[This] saw it dump its LGBTIQ equality portfolio and refuse to rule out supporting the Government’s proposals to roll back LGBTIQ equality in the name of ‘religious freedom’.

“This was because of a false narrative that anti-LGBTIQ religious voters delivered Labor’s defeat, a narrative Labor’s internal review has not borne out.”

Labor’s post-election review found that, “On the whole, people of faith did not desert Labor, but Labor lost some support among Christian voters – particularly devout, first-generation migrant Christians.

“Other religious denominations did not swing decisively one way or the other.”

Croome said “anti-LGBTIQ fear campaigns” may have had a “limited impact among a tiny minority of socially-conservative religious voters.”

“But it was not enough to swing an election and does not justify abandoning the basic Labor principles of equality and inclusion,” he said.

“Labor’s reconnection with churches must emphasise inclusion for all, including LGBTIQ Australians.”

“Meanwhile, a top priority for LGBTIQ advocates must be to show that if Labor abandons our community it will come at a much greater electoral cost than the Party would accrue by annoying a few disaffected anti-LGBTIQ pastors and prelates.”

Labor delaying official stance on religious discrimination bill

In September, Labor’s Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the party would not form a position on the draft bill until it is introduced to parliament.

“The time for Labor to be taking a definitive position will be after our full consultation has occurred, after our party room processes have occurred,” he said.

“That will be after the Government produces a bill and produces it to the Parliament.”

Dreyfus added, “It is far too early to adopt a definitive position in respect of any of this bill simply because it is not clear that the Government will be proceeding with what’s in the exposure draft.

“I think it seems highly likely that the Government is already contemplating change from the exposure draft.

“We’ll wait and see what the Government finally presents to Parliament when that occurs.”

However Attorney-General Christian Porter said while there “will be changes [to the draft bill], they’re not changes at the margin, nor are they massive or substantial changes.”

Porter admitted the final religious discrimination bill will not leave everybody “perfectly happy”.

LGBTIQ advocates have numerous concerns about bill

LGBTIQ advocates have previously flagged numerous issues with the draft of the Morrison governemnt’s controversial religious discrimination bill.

Concerns range from anti-discrimination law to health services and the scourge of harmful “conversion” therapies.

In a submission to the government, the Law Council of Australia said the draft bill contains “new and unorthodox” provisions that go too far.

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