Faith groups push Coalition on discrimination bill

Christian Porter (ABC News)

The Morrison Government is under pressure from faith groups to include protections for institutions in its proposed religious discrimination bill, which is expected to go to Cabinet next week. Source: The Guardian.

But LGBTQI advocates say the government should resist the push, saying it would create an “extremely unorthodox” piece of legislation that differed from traditional anti-discrimination laws.

Attorney-General Christian Porter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have been consulting with church groups about the proposed new laws, which were promised before the election in response to a review conducted by former MP, Philip Ruddock.

Mr Morrison quietly met with 21 leaders of Australia’s key religions in Sydney last week, promising not to rush the new laws, while assuring them he was working towards securing a “workable balance” between religious freedom and competing rights.

The Guardian understands Mr Porter will take legislation to cabinet next week, after which the government is expected to release an exposure draft of the bill and begin negotiations with the Labor party. A public consultation period is also expected.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Dan Flynn said his group had been pushing for the government to include specific protections to ensure employment contracts could not impinge on the religious expression of employees, and said institutions also needed to be protected.

“We want more than religious belief to be protected, we are looking at religious expression and activity,” Mr Flynn said.

Equality Australia’s chief executive, Anna Brown, said the organisation was looking forward to seeing the detail of the legislation, but said she was concerned the new laws could see workplace protections for minority groups watered down.

“We need to ensure that protections of people of faith operate as a shield and don’t allow them to be treated unfairly because of their beliefs, but at the same time we can’t punch a hole in other safety and discrimination laws that operate to allow workplaces to be harmonious,” Ms Brown said.

FULL STORY

Coalition pressured to include protections for religious institutions in discrimination bill (The Guardian

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