Prime Minister Scott Morrison will personally introduce the long-awaited religious discrimantion bill into federal parliament on Thursday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will personally introduce a religious discrimination bill into federal parliament on Thursday.
The long-awaited bill has been in the works for years and was promised by the Coalition government during the same sex marriage debate in 2017.
The bill provides extra protection of people of faith. The proposed law ensures statements of belief are not discriminatory “as long as they don’t threaten, intimidate, harass or vilify a person or would be considered malicious to a ‘reasonable person’.
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The proposal also allows religious institutions to hire people who share their views.
An earlier draft of the document featured a so-called Israel Folau clause where someone is protected from being sacked for expressing any religious belief. The stipulation has now been taken out.
While some MPs are satisfied with the legislation, some moderate MPs and critics have raised concerns about the proposal.
Queensland backbencher Warren Entsch told the ABC he “still questions the need for it”.
“I respect that we took this to an election,” Mr Entsch said.
“But there are some elements I remain concerned about.”
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown told SBS News that despite improvements to the proposed act, “some of the worst parts remain”.
“This bill will license people to say statements in the name of religion that would be discrimination today but tomorrow under this bill they would be lawful,” she toldSBS News.
Ms Brown also raised concerns about the proposed changes to the rights of religious institutions.
“We need to look very carefully to make sure the discrimination that is allowed in this bill by religious organisations is fair and reasonable and doesn’t inadvertently target LGBTI people,” she said.
The bill is expected to be debated and voted on in the House of Representatives next week then sent to the Senate and subject to a committee inquiry.
The potential law will be put to a final vote early next year.