Amnesty International activists taking part in Gay Pride in Paris, June 2015.

Proposed religious discrimination bills entrench division for generations to come, a Human Rights Act is needed now

  • Amnesty International says that a Federal Human Rights Act is the answer to the religious freedom debate
  • The proposed Bills are a radical solution that entrenches division and fear for generations, pitting the right to hold and manifest religious beliefs against other rights
  • As the Bill progresses, amendments regarding healthcare, employment, conversion practices and protection of students must be prioritised.

Amnesty International Australia today submitted its analysis and recommendations on the Religious Discrimination Bills – Exposure Drafts. Amnesty International Campaigner, Joel Clark said:

“The Religious Discrimination Bills pit us against each other. It gives people who hold a religious belief power over people who don’t, who hold a different belief, or who don’t fit within their beliefs.

“By progressing the Religious Dicrimination Bills, the Morrison Government is entrenching division and fear for generations to come. Not only am I concerned about how I am treated, or me and my partner are treated, in a post-Religious Discrimination Bill Australia, I am absolutely terrified about what type of society our future children may grow up in where our rights are pitted against each other as the norm.

“The answer to the religious discrimination debate is not a piecemeal approach to human rights protection. A Federal Human Rights Act that ensures all fundamental rights are protected and appropriately balanced is the answer. Nearly 10,000 Amnesty International supporters have called on the government to enact a Human Rights Act, and we have reiterated their call in this submission”.

In its submission, Amnesty International makes seven recommendations. Five of which address key concerns around healthcare, employment, conversion practise and protection of students.

Mr Clark said: “If we have to have these Bills, the government must at least get it right. At the moment the bill mean that people can be refused access to healthcare, that LGBTQI kids can be expelled from kids because of their sexuality, and the progress made in ridding Australia of conversion practices and associated ideologies is at risk of being undone”.

Note: Amnesty International’s full submission can be read here.