Amnesty International welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission to the Attorney-General’s Department’s inquiry into the second exposure draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019. The Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019, and the Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019, which are also proposed, have not changed materially since the first exposure drafts and are not referred to in this submission.
Noting that the issue of religious freedom and religious discrimination has been at the centre of public debate for some years, particularly at the time of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, it has become apparent that the community expects a timely resolution to the question of rights protections. Amnesty International holds the strong position that the only feasible way to protect the rights of people of faith whilst not creating a situation that allows people of faith to discriminate against others, is a Federal Human Rights Act or Charter of Human Rights and Freedom.
This Act or Charter would protect the rights of all Australians within a framework that ensures that all people’s rights are universal and indivisible. In a situation where one person’s accessing of their rights impacts or impinges on another person’s ability to access their rights, an Act or Charter would fairly balance these rights. UDHR allows for the rights to be balanced with each other so that no one human rights outweighs another.
As a global movement of 10 million people, and 500,000 people in Australia, Amnesty International has the people power to build public support for a Human Rights Act. Learn more about what are human rights and our Human Rights Act campaign work.