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Submission: Religious Freedom Bills – Exposure Drafts

Amnesty International welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission to the Attorney-General’s Department’s inquiry into the exposure drafts of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019, and the Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019 (the Religious Discrimination Bills).

Read our submission here.

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 protection. Amnesty International holds the strong position that the best form of rights protection is a Federal Human Rights Act. 

Acknowledging that the Federal Government has to date rejected the proposal of a Federal Human Rights Act, this submission addresses several concerns that Amnesty International has in regards to the Religious Discrimination Bills, namely that they provide protection to religious belief or activity at the expense of others.

This submission outlines Amnesty International’s specific concerns about the Religious Discrimination Bills, and recommends remedies, regarding its impacts on health care and employment, an oustanding need to expressly prohibit religious vilification, a lack of protection of students in religious educational institutions, and the need to address conversion practices.

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Joel Clark is a Government Relations Adviser at Amnesty International Australia.