It now appears that the attempt by the Marshall/Chapman government to amend the Equal Opportunity Act to severely curtail the balancing clauses for religious institutions has been shelved.
Most likely this is due to the feedback the government received from many sources, including from ACL and from many of you.
In our submission ACL said:
“The Bill indicates that the Liberal government has chosen to discriminate against those of a religious persuasion and the Bill will have a deleterious effect on the rights and practices of the faith communities in South Australia…
“The Bill should not proceed or at least should be substantially reworked.”
The most contentious aspect of the Bill was its likely effect in prohibiting the freedom to teach Christian doctrine on sexual conduct and human personhood. We said:
“The Bill evidences a clear move by the government to limit the rights and freedoms of religious communities, in favour of those who espouse a cultural Marxist based sexual libertarian and gender fluid philosophy.
“This will have a deleterious effect on the rights and freedoms of faith communities.
“That is because the wide definition of discriminate in section 29 of the EOA, which includes to treat another unfavourably. That means that Christian, Islamic or Sikh teaching on sexual conduct or human personhood expressed in the presence of a person who lives by a sexual libertarian and gender fluid philosophy is likely to breach the EOA. The proclamation of those teachings will effectively be banned in schools or the other institutions to which are affected by clause 4(2) of the Bill.
“The prohibition may even apply to churches, mosques or temples directly, if they are found to provide a service associated with ‘health and wellbeing.’”
It is pleasing that the government seems to have heard the voices of the people and has decided to not proceed with this proposal at present. However, it is likely that the Bill will surface in some form, whichever side wins the next election.
It is therefore critical that we consider carefully the position of each candidate for whom we vote in relation to matters of religious freedom.