Australia: LGBTQ advocates blast religious discrimination bill

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11/25/2021

Australia has introduced a new controversial bill aimed at protecting religious people from “cancel culture”. Among other things, it would allow Catholic schools the right to fire teachers or expel gay students in the name of “religious ethos”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Religious Discrimination Bill, if passed, would ensure protection for religious people and organisations, like churches, to express beliefs. Critics say it is “deeply unbalanced”. Introducing the bill on Thursday, Mr Morrison said it aimed to protect people’s “statements of belief” as long as it was not “harassment, vilification or intimation of anyone.” But Australia’s Human Rights Law Centre said the bill fails to “fairly balance the right to equality with the freedom of religion”. Human rights and LGBT groups have also warned the law would instead grant licence for people to express bigoted views. The law also authorises people to express derogatory or harmful comments in a workplace, school and health setting, the human rights group said. Equality Australia, a gay rights advocacy group told the ABC earlier this week: “When… a nurse says to a patient with HIV that their HIV is a punishment by God, for example…[that] could constitute a statement of belief, would be protected under the law under this bill.” Such incidents have already occurred in Australia, but victims can sue for discrimination. The new law if passed, would override these rights.

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