Religious discrimination laws edge closer

November 15, 2021 by AAP
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The Morrison government is expected to bring its religious discrimination laws to parliament as early as next week.

Scott Morrison addresses the Malmo Forum Photo: Screenshot

The final parliamentary sitting fortnight of the year starts on Monday when cabinet is understood to sign off on the bill.

The government has conducted two rounds of public consultation on draft legislation and met face-to-face with over 90 stakeholders in a series of roundtables.

But the final bill itself is yet to be released.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Michaelia Cash told AAP the bill would ensure that “individuals cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their religious belief or activity”.

“The religious discrimination bill will not affect the operation of existing religious exemptions under anti-discrimination law, such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1984,” the spokesman said.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Labor believed all Australians should be able to go about their lives free from discrimination.

“As we have repeatedly made clear to the attorney-general and her predecessor Christian Porter, we are ready to work with the government on a religious discrimination bill,” he said.

“We are still to be shown any legislation, and will wait for the government to introduce an actual bill into the parliament before determining our position.”

The proposed laws faced a massive backlash last year, with lawyers, business groups and unions campaigning against it under the banner of #DontDivideUs.

Conservatives have argued against some drafts of the bill saying they did not go far enough in allowing individuals and organisations the freedom to make statements of belief, such as Israel Folau’s controversial social media posts saying homosexuals would go to hell.

Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over the posts, later received an apology from the body and a confidential settlement.


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