Everything You Need To Know About Australia’s New Religious Discrimination Bill

Whilst Sydney saw its smokiest day ever, and Australian homes burnt to the ground, Scott Morrison felt it was of utmost importance that he worked on the proposal for the new Religious Discrimination Bill last week. The proposal has rightfully caused a resounding echo of concerns, fears and frustrations from various individuals, governing bodies and advocacy groups.

Photo Credit: ABC News/ Dean Sewell

The collection of examples that are listed here are from the government’s explanatory memorandum (EM) and stakeholder groups. Under Scott Morrison’s new Religious Freedom Bill proposal, these are the things that would be lawful.

For Medical Services:

Doctors are entitled to:

Choose not to provide the morning-after pill to a rape victim.

Choose not to perform an abortion for a rape victim.

Choose not to provide medication for people exposed to STDs.

A psychologist, psychiatrist or doctor can:

Tell someone who is depressed that they should “look forward to the Kingdom of Heaven.” (This actually happened in Sydney in 2012. The doctor had her medical registration bill in 2015 suspended after multiple complaints from patients-under this proposal it is possible it never would have been suspended.)

For Employment:

Religious affiliated businesses may discriminate against their staff on the basis of religion both in terms of hiring and to set codes of conduct requiring them to act in accordance with faith.

A woman may be told by a manager that women should submit to their husbands or that women should not be employed outside the home.

A person of minority faith may be told by a retail assistant from another religion that they are a “heathen destined for eternal damnation.”

For Schooling:

Just Equal explained that “an office worker could declare on social media that a fellow employee is in a wheelchair because they are sinful and urge them to attend a faith healer. The workplace inclusion policy would be overridden by such a ‘statement of belief’ and any action taken against the offender could be appealed to the Human Rights Commission as ‘religious discrimination.'”

Public Interest Advocacy revealed that:

“A single mother who, when dropping her child off at day care, may be told by a worker that she is sinful for denying her child a father.”

“A student with a disability may be told by a teacher their disability is a trial imposed by god.”

A student that attends the same religious school through their primary and secondary education could be expelled, suspended or otherwise punished if they told a teacher they were no longer religious.”

Around Australia, Many Have Spoken Up Against It:

Neha Madhok, the National Director of Democracy in Colour for Equality Australia explained that “the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill shows that despite the uptick of racially motivated religious violence, dangerous fringe groups like the Australian Christian Lobby are being heard over the genuine need to protect people of colour. We’re calling for a definition of religious vilification that provides real protection from Islamophobia, from verbal and physical harassment as we go about our lives.”

The Australian Medical Association revealed that it was concerned with how the “conscientious objection” would work because it may not “reflect and uphold the ethical and professional standards of the medical profession where the doctor’s primary duty is to support the health needs of patients.”

Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby declared that the bill would “sustain nastiness and hostility that [Australia] can well do without.”

Ian Thorpe and Lauren Jackson teamed up with a few other Aussie legends for Equality Australia to express their horror about the bill and urge its audience to sign a petition that calls for a revision and new proposal.

The Religious Discrimination Bill will affect us all

Tell your MP that our laws need to protect all of us, equally. Tell them that you oppose the Religious Discrimination Bill. https://equalityaustralia.org.au/no-to-discrimination/

Posted by Equality Australia on Thursday, 12 December 2019


You can sign a petition voicing your concerns here.

The rightful concerns of individuals, lobby groups and governing bodies hopefully creates the resounding echo that is necessary for Morrison’s bill to be scrapped or significantly altered. Its impingement on human rights by privileging religious beliefs carries detrimental impacts for Australian society. Perhaps “turning the other cheek” is a better alternative to the bill (Matthew, 5:38-40).

What do you think of the Religious Discrimination Bill? Let us know in the comments down below.