Anti-discrimination law and Religious Freedom

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief is a fundamental human right. State based anti-discrimination law in Australia provides exceptions or exemptions as a method of protecting religious freedom. Unfortunately, some in our community misunderstand this approach and consider religious freedom as a concession, or special pleading to the right to non-discrimination.

Religious exemptions or exceptions in anti-discrimination law are important because they act as protections for the fundamental right to religious freedom, for example, they allow Christian ministries and schools the freedom to employ staff who have a commitment to the religious views and mission of the organisation.

 

a)      Does your party support religious freedom protections afforded by current anti-discrimination exemptions? 

b)      Does your party have any plans for reform or change to anti-discrimination law? 

ACL has made submissions to government inquires on a Commonwealth and State level arguing that any future reforms to anti-discrimination law should protect religious freedom through a general limitations clause rather than exemptions. The objective of a limitations clause is to ensure that the fundamental right to religious freedom is not considered a concession, or some kind of special pleading to anti-discrimination law.

c)       What is your party’s position on a limitations clause?

Answer

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

A) Yes – ministers of religion, and others are entitled to say NO. 
B) AC will be fighting against any amendments that seek to remove a clause that protects pastors and others. 
C) Did not answer.

Labor

WA Labor has no plans to amend current anti-discrimination law and believes the current provision for exceptions is sufficient to allow for particular religious groups.


It is a reality of the make-up of societies that some sections of a community will not have the depth of legal knowledge to fully understand the intricate workings of legislation and will misunderstand the current anti-discrimination law as it applies to religious groups. WA Labor does not believe that small sections of a community 'misunderstanding' a law is necessarily grounds to change the law.

Liberal Party

Did not answer.