General News

Australian prime minister introduces bill to protect ‘religious freedom’

Rachel Badham November 29, 2021

On November 25, Australia’s controversial prime minister, Scott Morrison, introduced a bill that would allow faith-based organisations to override existing anti-discrimination laws in favour of religious freedom.

Introducing the bill, Morrison argued that religious groups are “concerned about the lack of religious protection against the prevalence of ‘cancel culture’ in Australian life”, and should not be “vilified” for harbouring anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs.

The bill has caused concern among LGBTQ+ advocacy organisations, with the Human Rights Law Centre warning it could grant organisations a “new license to discriminate against others”, including women, LGBTQ+ communities and disabled people. Legal director Adrianne Walters urged the Australian parliament to “oppose this deeply unbalanced bill”, adding: “Our laws should promote respect and inclusion.”

LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Australia also condemned the bill, with CEO Anna Brown saying: “The Prime Minister is right to say that people of faith should be protected from discrimination and the process of doing so should not divide the Australian community, but his Religious Discrimination Bill fails his own test.”

The bill is now expected to go to vote in the Australian Senate next year.