Religious Discrimination Bill 2021

Author: 
Liberty Victoria

Liberty Victoria is opposed to discrimination on the basis of the attributes of religious
belief and religious activity, just as on the basis of the other attributes protected under
our laws, including the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (EOA). The Commonwealth
Parliament would do well to follow the example of State and Territory laws in this
field.
However, the form of this Bill marks a significant departure from the model adopted
by state anti-discrimination legislation. It prioritises one particular type of attribute
(religious belief and religious activity) over others. It unbalances the important
safeguards that protect people against discrimination and poses a real risk to several
minority groups in Australia.

In summary:
(1) We support laws to protect people from discrimination on the basis of religion
and/or religious belief (or the absence of such a belief);
(2) We strongly oppose elevating the rights of people with religious beliefs above
the rights of other Australians by exempting ‘statements of belief’ from existing
anti-discrimination laws. In a civilised and human rights respecting society,
there is no basis for undermining Commonwealth, state and territory
discrimination laws, thus exempting discrimination, because it has a religious
underpinning; and
(3) We oppose the way in which these laws make it easier for vital services,
including health services and those providing housing, to discriminate against
people.
The Bill should not be passed in its current form.

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