'Deeply unbalanced': Religious Discrimination Bill draws flak

The bill would protect religious factions from 'cancel culture'

'Deeply unbalanced': Religious Discrimination Bill draws flak

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) has slammed as "deeply unbalanced" the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill from the government, urging Parliament to oppose the legislation. The bill aims to protect religious people from the "prevalence of cancel culture" when expressing their beliefs, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who introduced the legislation.

"People should not be cancelled or persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else's in a free liberal democratic society like Australia," Morrison said.

However, HRLC legal director Adrianne Walters expressed concern on some of the legislation’s "alarming provisions" and said the bill "fails to fairly balance the right to equality with the freedom of religion."

According to the centre, the concerning provisions include ones that:

  • Allow people to make derogatory, offensive and harmful statements of belief, including in workplaces, schools and health services, and that override federal, state and territory anti-discrimination laws, thereby denying victims an important avenue for justice.
  • Grant unprecedented licence to religious bodies, including schools and charities, to discriminate against people of a different faith or no faith in a range of circumstances.
  • Attempt to override new legislation before the Victorian Parliament that seeks to provide better protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ people, women and others.

"Our laws should protect people of faith and no faith from discrimination, without granting religious organisations new licence to discriminate against others. Women, LGBTIQ+ communities, people with disability, school students and people of faith should not fear unfair treatment and harm. The Morrison Government’s proposed law fails on all fronts," said Walters.

The director then urged Parliament to oppose the "deeply unbalanced bill," which Walters said would trample "hard-fought anti-discrimination protections."

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