A clear majority of Australians has backed new laws to prevent individuals, schools and companies from being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs and practices, according to a new poll. Source: The Australian.
The Newspoll comes as the federal Government weighs up its response to a review into religious freedom conducted by former Liberal attorney-general Philip Ruddock.
It shows 59 per cent of the 1717 voters surveyed were in favour of new laws to protect individuals, schools and companies because of their religious beliefs compared with 26 per cent opposed to change.
About two-thirds or 65 per cent of Coalition voters supported a strengthening of protections for religious freedoms; 57 per cent of Labor voters also backed the need for more robust protections.
Greens voters also overwhelmingly backed new laws to protect religious freedoms, with 63 per cent saying they were in favour of change compared with 50 per cent of One Nation voters.
Despite the poll showing overwhelming support for the enhancement of religious freedom in Australia, a parliamentary committee yesterday proposed the removal of key protections for faith-based educators from anti-discrimination laws.
A Senate inquiry examining the treatment of gay students and teachers at religious schools yesterday recommended the removal of an exemption at section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act.
This exemption currently allows faith-based schools the ability to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, although it is not used for this purpose by religious schools.
The Senate committee also recommended that “further consideration” be given to amending the Act to prohibit discrimination by faith-based educators against gay teachers and staff.
Attorney-General Christian Porter has made it clear that the government will support the removal of the exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act allowing schools the ability to discriminate against students but he will not remove the exemption that exists for teachers.
The committee yesterday recommended that “consideration be given to inserting in law a positive affirmation and protection of religious freedom in Australia that is appropriately balanced with other rights”.
Newspoll: majority backs laws to protect religions (The Australian)
Time to protect religious belief (The Australian)