21 January 2024
Support Removes ANY Reason to Delay
Religious Discrimination Bill
The widespread support for proposed bans on extreme hate speech as reported today, Christian groups back Labor’s plan to tackle hate speech, removes the final hurdle to the introduction of long overdue Federal religious discrimination protections.
“There is clear support across faith groups for bans on extreme hate speech as part of a new federal religious discrimination act”, said Christian Schools Australia Director of Public Policy, Mark Spencer.
“Greater dialogue between faith groups, and a greater appreciation of the perspective put by minority faiths, including Islamic and Jewish leaders about the vilification their communities, has increased understanding and led to a widely accepted need for sensible legislation in this area.”
”While poorly drafted vilification protections that captured merely ‘insulting’ or ‘offensive’ speech would set too low a bar and must be avoided; sensible, balanced protections can be drafted as we have seen in New South Wales”, he said.
The Religious Discrimination Bill 2022 introduced by the former government after extensive consultation over more than two years, was the subject of two Parliamentary inquiries, which supported its passage through Parliament. The Bill, with amendments from those inquiries, was passed by the House of Representatives on 11 February 2022 but lapsed with the end of that Parliament.
“We have a clear basis for establishing religious discrimination protections”, Mr Spencer said, “with a widely supported and thoroughly debated bill passed during the last Parliament”.
“The Government has committed to provide protections against religious discrimination and we look forward to consultation on a draft bill and its introduction without delay into Federal Parliament”.
“Christian schools, their teachers, leaders, and communities having been patiently awaiting this long overdue legislation”, he said.
“Although families are focusing on cost-of-living pressures, they continue to choose Christian schools in increasing numbers as faith and values remain important to them, we must not forget that”, Mr Spencer emphasised.