Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous fears Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s anti-discrimination legislation will “not go far enough” in protecting faith-based groups, hospitals, schools and charities. Source: The Australian.
Archbishop Porteous, who was referred to Tasmania’s anti-discrimination tribunal over his position on same-sex marriage, called on the Government to replicate international human rights conventions and implement “positive legal rights” for religious freedom, instead of exempting faith groups from existing anti-discrimination laws.
The Australian understands draft proposals backed in Cabinet this week would ban discrimination on the basis of faith in areas such as employment, housing and the use of services.
“I fear they will settle for that rather than go further,” Archbishop Porteous said. “One of the problems we are facing is, when there are competing rights, the religious position is often right down the bottom of the list. (The laws should say) it is fundamental to who people are and society needs to recognise this and protect it.”
The “positive right” demanded by churches would explicitly state in law that religious belief was a “fundamental human right” and individuals and organisations were entitled to adhere, teach and promote faith doctrine.
Church groups are protected through exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act but they claim that is insufficient.
There is also a group of conservative Liberal MPs — including senators Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Eric Abetz — pushing for wider protections than are being proposed by the Attorney-General, Christian Porter. But other conservative MPs, such as independent senator Cory Bernardi, warn that the Catholic Church proposal could lead to “unintended consequences” and pave the way for sharia law in Australia. There is also a concern in Government ranks that it would give too much power to courts and put religious rights ahead of other rights.
The archbishop also said federal laws should override moves by Queensland and Victoria to impose criminal sanctions on priests who don’t report child sexual abuse in the confessional.
Mr Porter said his laws would strike the “appropriate balance”.
Archbishop demands laws to guarantee religious freedom (The Australian)
Protect our religious freedom, for goodness sake (The Australian)