Canberra, Australia, Oct 8, 2019 / 11:49 am
The Catholic bishops of Australia are among those who have called for changes to a contentious religious discrimination bill, saying that while it shows promise, it does not do enough to safeguard religious freedom.
The submission period on the draft version of the religious freedom bill ended last week. The bill is intended to make it unlawful to discriminate against people on the ground of their religious belief or activity; establish a religious freedom commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission; and amend existing laws regarding religious freedom, including marriage and charities law, and objects clauses in anti-discrimination law.
The coalition government wants to make religious belief and activity a protected class, like race or sex. It also hopes to ensure that groups rejecting same-sex marriage are not stripped of their charitable status.
In its current version, the bill would not protect religious statements that are "malicious, would harass, vilify or incite hatred or violence against a person or group or which advocate for the commission of a serious criminal offence".