PM Scott Morrison meets with faith leaders on ‘religious freedom’

prime minister scott morrison religious freedom meeting discrimination
Photo: Executive Council of Australian Jewry/Twitter

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met with more than 20 faith leaders to discuss “religious freedom” and plans for a religious anti-discrimination bill.

But LGBTIQ advocates have had to petition in a bid for government consultation on the legislation.

On Monday, Jewish, Anglican, Uniting Church, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist leaders gathered in Sydney to attend the meeting. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s (ECAJ) Co-CEO Peter Wertheim said in a statement the discussion was very constructive.

“Each of us outlined what was of importance to our respective communities. Not only with regard to the proposed legislation but also broader cultural attitudes with regard to religion,” he said.

“This sends a positive message to the world about how effectively Australia operates as a multi-faith and multicultural society.

“From the tenor of his comments and responses to our concerns, I felt reassured that the rights and freedoms of people of faith to practise and preach their beliefs, and the rights and freedoms of faith-based schools and institutions to operate in accordance with their ethos, will continue to be protected in accordance with international norms.

“We all welcomed the Prime Minister’s assurance that the government is ‘not rushing this’ and will continue to proceed in a measured and considered way.”

PM urged to meet with LGBTIQ advocates too

Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said he hopes Morrison will also take the time to meet LGBTIQ representatives. They’re concerned about the scope of the as-yet-unseen legislation.

“The Prime Minister has met with religious leaders to discuss their desire for more ‘religious freedom’,” he said.

“But he hasn’t met with LGBTI representatives to discuss the adverse impacts on us of allowing discrimination in the name of religion.

“Until this happens the Government is open to accusations of bias against the LGBTI community.”

Croome also encouraged people to sign an Equality Australia petition calling for LGBTIQ consultation.

“We need laws to equally protect people of faith, women and LGBTIQ people from discrimination and harm,” it reads.

“That means laws that provide a shield of protection to those who need it, but that don’t hand organisations or individuals a license to discriminate against and attack others.

“LGBTIQ people and women are most likely to be negatively impacted by [laws] which don’t get this balance right.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter plans to introduce an as-yet-unseen Religious Discrimination Act before the end of the year. But conservative MPs have publicly advocated for broader laws.

This month, rallies are also planned around the country to oppose religious legal exemptions and LGBTIQ discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom”.

A Brisbane rally will be held in Queens Gardens on Saturday, August 17. Advocates will also hold anti-discrimination rallies in Perth on August 24, and Melbourne and Canberra on August 31.

Read more: Shelley Argent wants ‘freedom and equality for all, not for some’

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