Scott Morrison will take a religious discrimination act to the next election, which would for the first time introduce stand-alone legal protections for Australians of faith. Source: The Australian.
The Prime Minister will today unveil the long-awaited review into religious freedoms conducted by former Liberal attorney-general Philip Ruddock and accept its centrepiece recommendation for a religious discrimination act.
The overhaul is aimed at ensuring religious discrimination is treated as seriously as racial or sexual discrimination.
Draft legislation for the shake-up will be released early next year and will include a provision for the creation of a “freedom of religion” commissioner to sit within the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The government will seek feedback on the draft legislation, which will make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s religious beliefs, before taking the overhaul to next year’s election.
The government has also referred the issue of gay students within religious schools to the Australian Law Reform Commission for review.
The Prime Minister told The Australian last night he was taking action because religion and faith were central to the lives of millions of Australians, their families and their communities.
“Australia is a secular democracy but that does not mean that Australians are a godless people,” Mr Morrison said. “Australians have a diversity of faith and religious backgrounds and these should all be respected ... Protecting freedom of belief is central to the liberty of each and every Australian.”
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP yesterday said a religious discrimination act was necessary because society had changed.
Archbishop Fisher said Australians used to be “live and let live” on religious matters. “Our neighbours could have a different religion to us,” he said. “We gave each other the space to be different. But lately there has been a hard-edged secularism that wants to stamp out religion from public life. So that’s why I think there are calls today for religious discrimination legislation.”
Morrison’s stand on freedom of religion (The Australian)
Secularism would stifle faith if Labor has its way (The Australian)