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Civil society condemns draft Religious Discrimination ACT



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CIVIL SOCIETY CONDEMNS DRAFT RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION ACT

29 August 2019

Civil society groups representing women, LGBTIQ+ people, and people of colour have

today condemned the Government’s draft Religious Discrimination Act Exposure Draft.

“Laws must apply equally to everyone - this Act enshrines religious exceptionalism by

giving new privileges to people of faith, while overriding existing protections from

discrimination for others.”, said Anna Brown* CEO of Equality Australia.

“These new, radical provisions go too far and hand a sword to people of faith to use their

religious beliefs to attack others in our community.”

“There appears to be a specific override of Tasmanian prohibitions on conduct which

‘offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules’ other members of our community,

including LGBTIQ+ people.

“We must not go backwards or remove any protections from harmful behaviour which have

already been achieved - at great cost.”

“It’s really disappointing that the Government has drafted a series of special measures for

religious individuals and organisations without speaking to those who could be targeted if

those measures are passed”, concluded Brown.

Neha Madhok*, National Director of Democracy in Colour, “We want a bill that protects

people of all faiths, equally. But if it’s one that divides LGBTQI+ people of faith from their

own religious community, it’s gone too far”.

Diana Sayed*, a senior campaigner for Fair Agenda, said “No one person's beliefs should

override another person's protection from harm. We’re very worried about the potential

impact these changes could have on women’s protection from harm and access to

services, including reproductive healthcare."

*uses she/her pronouns

MEDIA CONTACT: Hayley Conway, 0484 313 466

ADDITIONAL QUOTES ATTRIBUTABLE TO ANNA BROWN:

WORKPLACES “The Bill explicitly privileges religious beliefs over secular beliefs. In a multicultural free

country like Australia - this is simply unacceptable.

“It introduces a carve-out to stop employers from upholding their inclusive non-discriminatory policies when staff express negative religious beliefs about LGBTQ people

outside the workplace such as on social media, except where necessary to avoid

unjustifiable financial hardship’.

“But people who aren’t religious don’t have the same level of protection. Our laws need to

treat all beliefs equally - regardless of whether they’re based on religion or a person’s

individual moral view.”

STATE-BASED LAWS

“The Attorney-General promised that the Religious Discrimination Bill would not ‘displace’

state or territory laws, but the Bill explicitly overrides existing protections from federal, state

and territory anti-discrimination laws through a new carve-out for a ‘statement of belief’.

“While a statement must not be malicious or likely to harass, vilify or incite hatred of others,

the current drafting does not provide critical protections from the broad range of harms

LGBTIQ+ people experience daily through bullying or online attacks.”

Copyright © 2019 Equality Australia, All rights reserved.

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Equality Australia

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