National, News, Queensland

Brisbane activists to protest religious discrimination bill

Human rights advocates will gather in Brisbane in February to protest the federal religious discrimination bill.

The bill proposes allowing individuals and organisations the legal freedom to discriminate against LGBTIQ people, women, and other marginalised groups on religious grounds.

The Kill the Bill protest will be held on Saturday 1 February in the Brisbane CBD.

“Please show up to fight for the rights of vulnerable members of our community,” said organisers.

“Everyone should be treated equally under the law, and this bill allows discrimination.”

Co-organiser Johnny Valkyrie said that the bill would legalise such discrimination as refusing employment or medical care to LGBTIQ people.

“The most unjust outcome of the bill is that any complaint made about behaviour justified on ‘religious grounds’ would mean that the marginalised person would be the one branded with discrimination,” said Valkyrie.

He said that the content of the bill reflects “the agenda of the Morrison government, and their contempt towards LGTBQIA+ people”.

“Attorney-General Christian Porter recently [said] that doctors ‘could refuse to prescribe hormone treatment for transgender people, for example’,” Valkyrie said.

“How is that an acceptable standard?”

Valkyrie has created an easy to read guide to the key points of the proposed legislation.

Two online petitions are available for people to voice their opposition to the bill, and Valkyrie is also encouraging people to write to their MPs.

“If you have ever complained about social injustice, you are obliged to help prevent this bill from becoming law,” he said.

“I have made an easy template to send to your MP.

“I recommend adding in a personal story.

“Are you worried about your ability to access contraception at your local pharmacy, your queer family member and their employability, or your ability to access your place of worship?”

Brisbane saw another protest against the religious discrimination bill earlier this year, with hundreds in attendance and thousands more showing their support online.

Organisers of January’s protest want more people to attend and show their opposition to the bill.

“I feel that much of the Australian LGBTQIA+ community gave up after the marriage reform laws,” said Valkyrie.

“We know that people living in Australia feel worse now than they did during the marriage equality debate, after an extensive community survey by just.equal revealed that more than 80% of the community have been more negatively impacted by the religious ‘freedom’ debate.

“We need more of you getting out there and helping where you can, and if you do not know where to start, then start the conversation with me!”

The protest on Saturday 1 February will start at 12 noon at King George Square, Brisbane.

Speakers will be members of groups that would be vilified by the bill, including LGBTIQ people, women, people of faith, and people with disabilities.

“We must remember our history and that our rights were fought for,” said Valkyrie.

“We have so much work to do.”

Please note that the protest has been postponed from its original date to Saturday 1 February.

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