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Discrimination bill saves the religious lobby from themselves

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Some religious leaders are so unhappy with Attorney-General Christian Porter’s new laws tackling religious discrimination they boycotted his unveiling of the draft bill last week. The faith lobby is cut about Australia’s chief lawmaker rejecting their demands for the hotly-awaited bill to express a “positive right” to “religious freedom” so that cake-sellers can stay sweet with the man upstairs by refusing to bake for same-sex weddings, which is an admittedly over-used and arguably facetious example, but at least you get the drift.

Porter’s bill simply protects people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs, in the same way we’re protected from discrimination around gender, race, age and disability.

Attorney-General Christian Porter delivers a speech announcing the release of an exposure draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill on Thursday at the Great Synagogue in Sydney. Credit:Ben Rushton

In truth, Porter’s no-frills Religious Discrimination Bill saved the religious lobby from themselves. As former federal sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward warned, a religious freedom law would likely provoke a human rights arms race with other subsets of Australians - women, Indigenous people, and so on - wanting the same status. The battles would inevitably end up in the courts. And conservatives are a bit dark on the courts. In April, the High Court unanimously dismissed an appeal by anti-abortion protesters in Victoria and Tasmania seeking to overturn convictions for........

© The Age