Conservatives Try to Sneak ‘Religious Freedom’ Into Australia’s Marriage Bill


Conservatives Try to Sneak 'Religious Freedom' Into Australia's Marriage Bill

“The bill would allow people to refuse to provide goods and services on the grounds of belief, thought and conscience, taking us well beyond religious beliefs into unchartered waters”, she said.

Almost 80 per cent of eligible Australians took part in the voluntary poll, a return rate that compares more than favourably with the 91 per cent who voted at the compulsory 2016 federal election.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong condemned the Paterson backers.

It is understood to be the option preferred by conservative Liberals if a change to the Marriage Act goes ahead, despite Senator Paterson himself supporting same-sex marriage.

Liberal senator James Paterson’s drafted legislation include extreme exemptions.

‘The right to freedom of religion also appears in global law.

Marriage celebrants can also refuse to officiate same-sex weddings, if their religious beliefs do not allow them to solemnise the marriage, however they must first register to be officially identified as a “religious marriage celebrant”. “While the freedom to have religious beliefs is also protected unconditionally, the manifestation or expression of those beliefs or religion may be subject to limitation where it impacts upon other fundamental rights”.

Appearing on ABC News Breakfast, Paterson confirmed key details of the bill and said he meant to protect the freedoms of the 30% to 40% of Australians who were likely to have voted against same-sex marriage.

The national director of Liberals and Nationals for Yes, Andrew Bragg, has said a marriage bill should be guided by three principles: “Firstly, existing discrimination in the Marriage Act should be eliminated; secondly, a strong protection for religious freedom should be provided; and thirdly, we should not reintroduce commercial discrimination in Australia“.

Attorney-General George Brandis has labelled same-sex marriage a “very, very important human rights reform”.

The government already has one same-sex marriage bill on the table, supported by Coalition moderates and sponsored by Senator Dean Smith, which would allow religious organisations including churches to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

“It was part of the journey in Ireland [during the referendum on marriage equality], the issue of freedom to discriminate against people, but that debate lasted a couple of hours because Irish people remember what those signs look like”.

Fellow Liberal Dean Smith also has a private bill ready for parliament.

Meanwhile, Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said on Monday the bill will encroach on many protections for LGBTI people in an “extraordinary and perilous way”. We know that’s the real slippery slope, when you unravel anti-discrimination protections, and I don’t think Australian people want that.

‘You could potentially see a situation where a hire vehicle company could leave their customers stranded on the way to a marriage ceremony simply because the driver held a thought or belief against it.

“If the parliament opts for a narrower bill with fewer protections, I fear we will see some Australians seek to impose their values on others, with court cases and other legal mechanisms”, Paterson warned.

At 10am on Wednesday, the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics will reveal whether Australia will join countries like Canada and the United Kingdom in favour of marriage equality or remain against it alongside nations like Iraq and Yemen.

The survey result will announced on Wednesday. “This is even if the belief had nothing to do with religion”.


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