The Morrison Government is set to disappoint conservative MPs pushing for radical religious freedom protections, opting instead for "standard" anti-discrimination provisions in new laws. Source: The Australian Financial Review.
Seeking to "complete the set" of Australia's anti-discrimination protections, Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed the Coalition to a new religious discrimination law during the federal election campaign.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said yesterday draft legislation was close to being ready and could be introduced in the new Parliament's first sitting weeks in July.
But calls from former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce for the new law to give protection to controversial views like those held by rugby star Israel Folau won't be taken up.
Mr Joyce has called for religious protections to cover employment contracts, in order to allow religious believers to express views like those of Mr Folau, who used social media to warn that gay people and fornicators will go to hell unless they repent.
Last month, conservative Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells called for the concerns of religious leaders and faith-based institutions to be addressed, ahead of the results of an Australian Law Reform Commission review into exemptions to anti-discrimination laws afforded to religious schools.
Mr Porter said the commission's review would continue while the government focused on less controversial changes, including clarifying issues in charities law to allow faith-based non-profits to observe religious teaching.
He said the new legislation would match protections barring racial or sex discrimination for people of religious faith, following the basic architecture of existing laws.
"We define an attribute, in this case someone's religious qualities or indeed irreligious qualities. It will apply to people who don't believe in religion.
"And then we say that persons holding those attributes will be protected from certain behaviour in certain circumstances, again, just like the Race or Sex Discrimination Act."
Mr Porter told ABC radio a range of "logical exceptions" would also be included.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the opposition will consider the legislation when it is made public.
Religious freedom laws to fall short of conservative demands (Australian Financial Review)