A review into religious freedoms will be released alongside the federal Government’s response before the end of the year, the prime minister says. Source: The Australian.
Cabinet is yet to consider the review led by former Liberal minister Philip Ruddock and handed to the government in May.
It urges the government to amend the Racial Discrimination Act or create a new Religious Discrimination Act to protect people of faith from discrimination, Fairfax Media reported yesterday.
“I’m not comfortable with discrimination against people’s religious faith, against their gender, against their sexuality, against their race,” Mr Morrison told 3AW radio yesterday.
“What this report is about is ensuring people can’t be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.”
Protection of religious beliefs already exists in every state and territory jurisdiction, except NSW and South Australia.
The review proposes laws be amended in those two states but rejects calls for a Religious Freedom Act, which would give greater rights to people to express their religious beliefs, Fairfax says.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the government should release the report before voters hit the polls for the Wentworth by-election.
“If there is nothing nasty in the report just put it out,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Brisbane yesterday.
“Why are we having a debate which says that the human dignity of children could be further subject to exemptions against discrimination?”
The review also recommends strengthening the right of schools to reject gay staff and students, it was reported on Wednesday.
Mr Morrison says religious schools should be able to operate according to their beliefs, but argues the review calls for the interests of children be put first.
“It puts the protection and interests of the child at the centre, which is not what that law currently does,” he said.
“It should be fine-tuned to protect the interests of the child and make that paramount in any consideration.”
Independent senator Derryn Hinch will move a notice of motion in the Senate next Monday, calling for government funding to be stripped from private schools that discriminate against teachers or students on sexuality grounds.
Religious freedom review by year’s end: PM (The Australian)
No solace from court ruling, says Archbishop (The Australian)
Religious schools are - technically - allowed to discriminate in ACT (Canberra Times)