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Coalition’s religious discrimination bill goes far, but not far enough

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01.09.2019

It is no surprise that the Religious Discrimination Bill is being criticised as too strong by aggressive secularists and too weak by people of faith. Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter describes the bill as a “shield against discrimination”, not a sword.

The fundamental point is that this is not a religious freedom bill. It is a religious discrimination bill with a narrow focus on a very specific set of issues.

Replay

It characterises religious belief as a “protected attribute” of individuals akin to age, sex or sexual
orientation. This is unlikely to satisfy many religious stakeholders who believe that religion is a
positive good, not just for individuals (like sexual orientation), but also for communities.

Specifically, the bill recognises a qualified individual right to freedom of religion and religious
expression and provides some protections for religious-affiliated institutions which wish to
maintain a faith-based ethos in their operational policies.

It protects Australians from religious discrimination in employment, accommodation, education
and sport. In particular it protects employees from unreasonable “employer conduct rules”, to
prevent a repeat of Rugby Australia’s Twitter-spat-turned-legal-stoush with Israel Folau.

It protects healthcare practitioners who........

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