One Nation’s Mark Latham and Reverend Fred Nile have introduced a bill into NSW Parliament to amend the NSW Anti-Discrimination laws to include protections for religious beliefs.
In principle, it is appropriate to provide people of faith with protection from discrimination.
However, this Bill goes beyond simply protecting religious beliefs and would allow religious bodies to actively discriminate against others. It prioritises religion above other human rights and has serious impacts on freedom of speech. It could also impact your medical care and restrict access to voluntary assisted dying laws (if ever passed in NSW).
For example, this bill would protect people like Israel Folau, but an employee of a faith based hospital, nursing home or even a school could be sacked for expressing support for voluntary assisted dying laws on their facebook page.
A Parliamentary Committee has been established to consult and inquire about the Bill’s impact. They are consulting with people in NSW via a short (three question) survey. Responses are due by 21 August 2020.
Please spend a few minutes completing the survey and encourage your friends, family and others to have their say too!
Supporters of voluntary assisted dying (VAD) should oppose this bill. Below are some reasons you might include in your survey response. If you are a Christian, please mention this.
Objections to the Bill
- It goes beyond protecting people of faith from discrimination. It would also allow them to discriminate against others, including people of other faiths.
- It restricts the free speech of employees and volunteers working in faith based organisations. This includes hospitals, nursing homes, schools, charities and providers of social services.
- If a person working for one of these religious organisations advocates or expresses support for VAD laws in their own time (i.e. not when they were at work) they could be sacked for offending “the religious sensibilities of the adherents of that religion”.
- Why should Israel Folau be protected, while a nurse expressing support for VAD laws on a personal facebook page risks the sack?
- It would allow hospitals, aged care homes and hospices to refuse to allow VAD within their facilities even if VAD was legal and the institutions were publicly funded. Even worse, such institutions would not be compelled to refer a patient to a doctor or facility that would offer VAD.
For more information about the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 (NSW)
Click here to read Fact Sheet from Equality Australia