The Greens election promise to abolish protections for freedom of religion in federal anti-discrimination law was contrary to the principles of a free society and international law.

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the Greens’ intolerance towards people who had a different belief system to them was breathtaking.

“Ever since anti-discrimination laws came into being it has been recognised that rights need to be balanced and that peoples’ freedom to believe should be upheld,” Mr Shelton said.

“It is unreasonable to force Christian or Muslim schools and charities to employ people who do not share the religious ethos of the school.

“The Greens have the right to decline employment in their political party to people who do not share their ethos. Religions should have the same freedom. That is not discrimination, it is allowing diversity.

“Clubs, churches, mosques and other organisations should have the freedom to employ people that share their common belief or ethos.

“It is not unreasonable to require adherence to this in employment, in the same way the Greens would not hire a coal industry executive to run their party.

“The Greens election promise defies Australia’s international obligations to protect freedom of conscience, thought and religion or belief, which it has voluntarily entered into along with most of the nations of the world (Article 18, ICCPR).

“Australia has accepted the international law position that freedom of conscience, thought and religion or belief is one of a very small number of non-derogable rights, even in a state of emergency (Article 4, ICCPR), because it is so fundamental to a person’s identity. 

“By denying the most fundamental freedom of all - freedom to express belief - the Greens clearly do not believe in the value of freedom or a free society, which is deeply concerning.

“Policies to remove the right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion or belief effectively co-opt the power of the government to coerce the beliefs of Australians.

“This is totalitarian, disturbing and wrong.”

The ACL has previously expressed concern with the Labor Party’s policy platform which recommends eliminating certain exemptions which protect religious freedom.

“ACL hopes that the Labor Party does not follow the Greens in abolishing freedom and calls on Bill Shorten to distance himself from the Greens totalitarian policy position,” Mr Shelton said.