Christian groups have swung their support behind Labor’s proposed bans on extreme hate speech as part of a new federal religious discrimination act. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has confirmed that Labor will include new measures to protect people from hate speech and vilification based on their faith when it seeks to legislate religious discrimination laws this year.
This approach is looming as a potential hurdle to bipartisanship in landing a federal religious discrimination act, with the federal Opposition signalling its reluctance to use civil discrimination laws to crack down on vilification.
In a significant shift in their position, key Christian groups say they are prepared to back Labor’s approach in a bid to build consensus among faith groups, providing the vilification provisions are drafted in a way that does not hamper their religious teachings.
This consensus position was laid out in a letter to Mr Dreyfus in June 2022, which until now has not been made public. It was signed by about 20 leaders from varied faith groups including Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, Baptist and Pentecostal churches, as well as Christian Schools Australia, the Australian National Council of Imams and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
“We support in principle, the introduction of your proposed prohibition on religious vilification,” the letter, signed June 8, states.
“Christian faith groups on the whole do not seek these protections for themselves, and stress the importance of avoiding any drafting that could be used to restrict genuine religious teaching, or discussion or proselytising. But support them for the sake of other (especially Islamic and Jewish) faith groups.”
A renewed debate on a federal religious discrimination framework is expected to kick off when federal parliament returns in February, with faith leaders anticipating Mr Dreyfus will introduce draft legislation into the parliament by July.
Christian groups back Labor’s plan to tackle hate speech (By Lisa Visentin, Sydney Morning Herald)