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Politicians swamped by protests against religious discrimination bill

Leading politicians have been deluged by hundreds of emails protesting against the religious discrimination bill through a campaign led by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG+).

PFLAG+ last week launched the Equality Not Discrimination website to inform Australians about the bill and the kinds of legalised discrimination that marginalised people could face if it passes.

Groups including LGBTIQ people, Indigenous people, and people of faith would lose protection from discrimination grounded in religion.

The website allows people to email politicians to voice their opposition to the bill.

On the first day on the campaign, politicians received over 500 emails through the site calling for the bill to be scrapped, with the number now well over 1,000.

Many of the emails have includes personal stories illustrating the depths of anxiety, frustration, and anger in the community about the bill.

“Our new website has clearly struck a chord,” said PFLAG+ spokesperson Shelley Argent.

“Both the high number of emails, and the personalised messages included in many of those emails, show there is deep opposition to this bill and people want it scrapped.

“PFLAG+ will step up its efforts to ensure as many Australians as possible have the chance to email politicians expressing their opposition to the bill.

“We want politicians to know they ignore public opposition to this bill at their peril.”

PFLAG+ has shared some of the major (anonymised) concerns expressed by LGBTIQ people who have sent emails as part of the campaign, including:

  • concern from Christians who don’t understand how the bill would improve their rights
  • fears that healthcare workers will be able to put their faith above patients’ best interests, which could have dangerous consequences
  • shock that after the sexual abuse inquiry religious bodies would have the right to judge anybody
  • belief that people of faith should be protected by anti-discrimination laws, but they should not enable them to persecute others
  • fears that the bill will lead to a divisive, hate-filled society.

Many LGBTIQ people with disabilities have reported being anxious about the impact the bill would have on them personally, including in employment and healthcare.

Emails from ministers of religion, teachers, psychologists, and medical practitioners have described how they have supported LGBTIQ people through crisis and that they are fearful of the impact the proposed legislation would have on the community.

Protests against the bill are taking place in the coming weeks in cities around Australia.

People opposed to the bill have also been urged to sign online petitions and write to their MPs to make their voices heard.

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