The Australian Christian Lobby is unable to support the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 in its current form.
Our first concern is that a non-discrimination approach is not the best way to deal with the religious freedom issues we encounter regularly in the community.
That said, we are cognisant of the political realities of this reform process, so we would nonetheless endorse this bill as a genuinely constructive and helpful reform, with some modest changes which will be outlined listed below in order of priority:
- “Lawful religious activity” must be adequately defined;
- “Unjustifiable financial hardship” should be no defence;
- “Relevant employer” should include a government employer;
- The word “vilify” is not sufficiently clear;
- Religious bodies undertaking “commercial activities” should not be excluded;
- The “reasonable” qualifier to indirect discrimination should be replaced with “necessary”;
- The objects clause should note the equal status of all human rights.