Community advocates have slammed the latest version of the religious discrimination bill, calling it “extreme and unnecessary”.
Released Tuesday, the bill retains some of what critics call its “worst provisions”.
It would permit employment and other discrimination against LGBTIQA+ and other marginalised people if it is in the name of religion.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the bill “sensible and reasonable” but has promised to refer it to a Senate inquiry, The Guardian has reported.
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said the bill was “a step backwards, winding back the hard-fought rights of women, people with disability, [LGBTIQA+] people, and even people of faith”.
“Damaging ‘statements of belief’ provisions… would override existing state and territory anti-discrimination protections,” said Brown.
“These provisions undermine everyone’s right to respect and dignity at work, school, and whenever they access goods and services like healthcare.”
Brown said that the bill overruling state-level anti-discrimination laws would be an “extraordinary act of overreach by the Morrison Government”.
Activist group Just.Equal has called for moderate Liberals, Labor, and the crossbench to vote down the “extreme and unnecessary” religious discrimination bill.
“Scott Morrison promised a bill that would stop discrimination on the basis of faith, which is something we would strongly support,” said spokesperson Rodney Croome.
“Instead, he’s delivered a bill that will allow discrimination in the name of faith, which is completely unacceptable in contemporary Australia.
“The bill still seeks to roll back those valuable anti-discrimination laws that have made Australia a fairer and more inclusive place over the last forty years.”
“This bill is not about freedom for faith, it’s about legal privileges for some very harmful prejudices.”
A new poll by Essential Media has found that 64% of Australians agree that “people should not be allowed to argue religious freedom to abuse others”, including 69% of Coalition voters.
It found that only 37% believed that stronger laws should protect people who express their religious views.
Croome said that the poll results highlight the problem of allowing “humiliation, harm, and abuse under cover of religious freedom”.