PM to Introduce Faith Discrimination Bill | Narooma News

Discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity will be made illegal in the areas of employment, education and the provision of goods and services, under a bill to be submitted to the federal parliament this week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will personally present on Thursday the government’s long-promised religious discrimination laws.

Details of the bill were released on Tuesday evening after the coalition common room backed it.

The laws will state that making a statement of belief, in good faith, would not constitute discrimination under Australian anti-discrimination law.

However, this would not apply to statements that are malicious or that a reasonable person would consider threatening, intimidating, harassing or vilifying any person or group of persons.

The bill will restrict the ability of organizations to impose standards of behavior on members of that profession, trade or occupation that would prevent a person from making a private statement of belief.

And it will allow religious organizations such as schools to give preference to people of the same religion as the religious body in employment decisions.

The government says the bill will not allow discrimination based on age, disability, race or sex.

The laws are not expected to be passed by the end of this year, as they will be the subject of a Senate inquiry.

Mr Morrison told his party hall that the bill is about tolerance and the balance between freedom and responsibility.

“This is a bill on religious discrimination, not a bill on religious freedom,” he told members of the coalition.

The Prime Minister also described it as a shield and not a sword.

Some village hall concerns have been raised about the bill, including a contentious clause designed to protect people who have made statements about their religious beliefs.

Others stressed the need to keep the 2019 election promise and pass the legislation.

Separately, crossbencher Pauline Hanson has indicated that she will not be supporting the bill in its current form, while Rex Patrick and Rebekha Sharkie do not see the need for it.

Earlier Tuesday, Equality Australia, which advocates for the rights of LGBTIQ + people, feared that some of the “worst parts” of the bill might remain.

The main objection of the group was the clause allowing people to make statements about their beliefs.

“This will allow someone to defend themselves against a discrimination claim if they say offensive, insulting, inappropriate and unacceptable things,” CEO Anna Brown told ABC Radio.

“In general terms, it reverses existing protections for vulnerable groups, it compromises access to non-judgmental health care and inclusive workplaces.”

Ms Brown was concerned that a nurse, for example, could be protected if she told someone with HIV that the disease was a punishment from God.

“That person at the reception (would, under the bill) be barred from filing a complaint against the person who made that statement because their statement of belief is protected,” she said.

Associated Australian Press

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