Gay marriage remains a threat to freedom of speech.
The Tasmanian Government’s announced changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act fail to remove the threat of fines for people who disagree with gay marriage.
Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said a “religious purposes” test had nothing to do with the right of free speech in the context of the marriage debate.
Mr Shelton said Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgeman’s “religious purposes” test amendments might help in church or a mosque, but the debate about marriage is about public policy, not religion.
“Speaking publicly about the definition of marriage and the rights of children, wherever possible, to be loved and raised by their mother and father has nothing to do with religion,” Mr Shelton said.
“It has everything to do with free speech and the ability for all Australians to be allowed to participate in the public debate without being hauled before a government commissioner, as Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous was.
“Whilever someone can take legal action because they are offended or subjectively think they have been ridiculed means we don’t have free speech in this nation,” Mr Shelton said.
“Seeking amendments to anti-discrimination law is not about authorising hate speech – no one wants that. The Act already protects people from hate speech and those protections should remain. What it is about is allowing people who wish to uphold marriage and the rights of children in the public square to do so without the chilling effect of the law breathing down their necks.
“Archbishop Porteous should never have spent six months tied up in a legal process simply for teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman and that children, wherever possible, have a right to their mother and father.
“This is not hate speech and it is not religious speech. Yet under Tasmanian law, and that of other Australian states, people are being bullied into silence.
“Same-sex marriage weaponises state-based anti-discrimination law and the inability of the Tasmanian Government to remove this vulnerability means people who wish to speak, teach and advocate for marriage to be between one man and one woman risk heavy fines.” said Mr Shelton.
“Thankfully all Australians will have the opportunity to have their say about the consequences of same-sex marriage at the up-coming plebiscite,” Mr Shelton said.