The Australian Government has shelved its religious liberty Bill over concerns that an amendment would prevent religious schools from acting in accordance with their beliefs.
During the Bill’s session in the House of Representatives, an amendment was passed which removed a religious school’s freedom to lawfully discriminate on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or pregnancy in accordance with its religious beliefs.
Amanda Stoker, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, said the Government is consulting with stakeholder groups to ensure “we can fully appreciate the implications of that amendment before we have to deal with the Senate”.
Wendy Francis, the Australian Christian Lobby’s National Director of Politics, commented: “The bills were intended to help faith-based schools, but they now do more harm than good.”
She added: “These protections have enabled faith-based schools to teach their religion and conduct their schools according to their faith values. The loss of this protection would outweigh any benefits that could be obtained by the Religious Discrimination Bill.”
The bills were intended to help faith-based schools, but they now do more harm than good.
The Government stated that it had received legal advice from the Attorney-General’s department, indicating the amendment may increase discrimination on the basis of a student’s sex. If introduced into the Senate, the Bill would now unlikely have time to become law before the election in May.
In November, the Australian Prime Minister introduced the Bill to protect people “from discrimination on the basis of their religion in daily life”.
Speaking in Parliament, Scott Morrison said that people were worried about “cancel culture” and the proposed law would protect people from being “fearful about what they believe”.
He stated: “People should not be cancelled or persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s”.