You did this! Religious Discrimination Bill delayed for further consideration

In a win for religious freedom the Prime Minister has agreed to delay tabling a Religious Discrimination Bill until it is in a form that can offer greater protections for people of faith.

The Prime Minister’s decision comes in response to the advocacy of ACL, other church and faith leaders and hundreds of ACL supporters who took the time to voice their concerns, in a public consultation process.

There was a sense among church leaders that the Bill was not quite right. The government has agreed. The consultation is therefore constructive, and the process is working.

ACL is seeking to have the protections the exposure draft offers fine-tuned to guard against judicial activism, unintended consequences and gaps in the law.

We welcome the government’s concern for getting the drafting right. A delayed law is better than a law with unintended consequences.

As this process continues over the next few months, we will work to ensure that Australians of faith do not lose their job, future prospects or livelihood for making non-malicious statements of religious belief.

Some issues with the exposure draft that we raised in the consultations were -

  • Protections to allow employees to make statements of belief had the unintended consequence of making large companies vulnerable to secondary boycotts- placing pressure on Christian employees.

  • The Bill did not contain a definition of “religious activity” meaning the courts would define it, and parliament’s intentions for the Bill could be undermined by judicial activism.

  • The Bill prohibited statements of belief that “vilify” without defining the word. That left Australians of faith uncertain about what they could and could not say.

  • “Commercial activity” is not the appropriate limit to place on religious bodies’ right to act according to their faith. That limit prevents Christian enterprises like campsites, childcare and others from being able to adopt a religious ethos. A different limit should be adopted.

Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support for this vital advocacy.

Our Managing Director, Martyn Iles, addressed the television media on Saturday.