Religious discrimination bill will retain controversial ‘Folau clause’, Christian lobby says
The federal government is finalizing a new bill on religious discrimination and will keep the controversial “Folau clause”, said Australian Christian Lobby chief executive Martyn Iles.
Iles made the revelation Monday in an interview with Vision Christian Radio on 20Twenty With Neil Johnson.
The Religious Discrimination Bill was a promise Prime Minister Scott Morrison made to religious and faith groups in the 2019 federal election. It was seen as a move to appease conservative religious groups, after Australia voted for marital equality in 2017.
Attorney General Michaelia Cash had indicated that the new bill would be submitted to Parliament in December.
The Folau clause
Earlier versions of the bill aimed to protect “statements of belief” made in the name of religion. One of the more controversial provisions has proposed to ban indirect discrimination and to prevent employers from developing social media policies and codes to prohibit employees from expressing their religious views.
The provision has been dubbed the “Folau Clause” after Rugby Australia’s decision to terminate Israel Folau’s contract for his homophobic social media posts where he said “hell awaits” “sinners,” including including “drunkards, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” and they should “repent”.
The clause has been contested by LGBTQI rights organizations as well as recently by some Liberal MPs who said the Folau clause was “unacceptable” to them.
Iles’ said the attorney general intended to retain the Folau clause, which helped the coalition of faith groups reluctantly accept this new version of the bill, despite its many “flaws”.
Religious groups negotiate with PMO, AG
Islands said the Lobby was “part of a coalition of religious leaders who jointly negotiated very closely with the Attorney General and with the Prime Minister’s Office.”
“The bill is extremely close. We are only at the very last day or the last two days of negotiation, ”he said.
Iles said the coalition of religious leaders had “pushed for the government’s final concessions.” Although religious groups did not get everything they wanted, Iles said there was a feeling of “reluctant support”.
“They can see that Bill makes a few key offers, which will make a difference in this country. So on behalf of the ACL, we are strong supporters and apply very, very strong pressure from a local level and from a lobbying level to ensure that the “Folau clause” remains in the bill. This is the clause named after Israel Folau. If someone talks about their faith in their own private time, their employer cannot fire them, ”said Islands, adding that they fought “tooth and nail” for the inclusion of the “Folau clause”.
“It was a great victory – this final version of the bill will contain a Folau clause. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad. And it exists in the bill, ”Iles said.
“This is where we are at the moment, we are in the last two days of negotiations, and we could get some more concessions,” added the Lobby’s general manager.
Bill on religious discrimination
LGBTQI organizations like Equality Australia have criticized earlier versions of the bill which ostensibly sought to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s religious beliefs.
Equality Australia said earlier versions of the bill “threaten our access to healthcare and undermine inclusive workplaces, schools and services. Laws that should protect religious people from discrimination will be used to license to discriminate against LGBTIQ + people, women, people with disabilities and others.
The attorney general was invited to meet with the LGBTQI + community before finalizing a draft of the bill.
A growing number of Liberal MPs, including Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch and Wentworth MP Dave Sharma, have expressed concerns about the bill.
“I support a bill on religious discrimination that focuses narrowly on its main objective, which in my opinion is to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religion, but it cannot be at the expense of hard-fought rights of the LGBTQI + community. , Sharma had said Star Watcher in July.