The prime minister stated that the bill would protect people of faith from the “de-culture,” and critics said it would legitimize what is now regarded as discriminatory.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Scott Morrison) submitted a controversial bill on religious discrimination to Parliament. He said the bill would protect people of faith from the “de-culture” effect.
The bill was submitted on Thursday and was seen as an attempt to win the support of religious voters before next year’s elections, and raised some concerns that followers from churches, schools and workplaces could not express their religious beliefs.
If approved, the new legislation will protect Australians who make “statements of faith” from litigation under current discrimination laws, provided that these statements do not “threate, intimidate, harass or slander individuals or groups.”
It will also allow faith-based organizations to prioritize hiring and registering people of their faith.
“People should not be cancelled, persecuted or slandered because their beliefs are different from others,” Morrison, a devout Pentecostal Christian, said when introducing the bill in the House of Commons.
He said: “Australians don’t have to worry about looking back, afraid to offend anonymous people on Twitter or violate the spirit of the political or social age,” and described the bill as “smart” legislation that balances freedom and responsibility.
But equal rights advocates, LGBTQ groups and academics criticized the new bill, saying it would allow people to make discriminatory speech in the name of religion and allow discrimination against gay students and teachers because it allows priority to be based on faith.
“What constitutes discrimination today will be legal tomorrow, allowing people to say harmful, insulting, and degrading words. For example, medical workers tell people living with HIV that AIDS is God’s punishment, or people with disabilities say that their disability is caused by the devil. Said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
She said in a statement that the bill also strengthened religious schools’ ability to refuse to hire staff who affirm or support homosexuals. statement, Calling on lawmakers to conduct a joint parliamentary investigation before the bill is put to vote.
The opposition Labor Party said it would “carefully review” the bill and negotiate with gay rights groups and religious groups. The party also stated that it wants the bill to be reviewed by a joint committee of members of the upper and lower houses of parliament.
Luke Baker, professor of constitutional science at Monash University, also supports the call to strengthen parliamentary review.
Writing in conversation, Baker Said The new bill removes some of the controversial features of the earlier draft, including provisions that allow medical staff to refuse treatment for religious reasons and protect people from being fired for expressing any religious beliefs.
The latter is called the Folau case, named after the Australian Rugby team fired player Israel Folau after posting a homophobic post on Instagram.
He wrote that despite this, the current draft still contains worrying provisions. For example, the “statement of faith” will “protect those who are disadvantageous to Christians and those who are disadvantageous to LGBTQIA+ people, women, or the disabled”.
Baker also pointed out that the bill will also explicitly overturn state and territory anti-discrimination laws to ensure that religious schools allow preferential recruitment based on faith, even in states where this practice is currently illegal.
Morrison hopes to vote on the bill in the House of Commons next week, but it is not yet clear whether the bill can be passed into law before the parliamentary elections, and the parliament has entered the last two weeks of this year’s meetings.
The election must be held before May 2022.