A new campaign has been launched against the religious discrimination bill, highlighting how it would allow discrimination against frontline workers and limit access to healthcare.
The Bill has been criticised as “a license to discriminate” in the name of religion, including allowing demeaning workplace comments and permitting the refusal of healthcare.
It would allow discrimination against marginalised groups including LGBTIQ people, Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, and women, protected by the defence of religious belief.
The new campaign is being run jointly by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and advocacy group just.equal.
“The religious freedom bill would allow discrimination against some LGBTIQ+ frontline health workers,” said PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent.
“My gay son is being applauded for his paramedic work in Britain but could face discrimination doing the same work in his home country of Australia if this bill is enacted.
“The bill would also make it harder to access healthcare, by allowing discrimination against all those groups who fall foul of traditional religious beliefs, including LGBTIQ people, people with disability, and women.
“The pandemic is a time when we should unite in the face of a common problem, not further divide the community as this bill would.”
Senator Eric Abetz, a supporter of the bill, has said it will be introduced in 2021, although just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said it could be even sooner.
“We don’t know exactly when the bill will be introduced, but there are rumours it could be as early as August,” Croome said.
“What we can be certain about is that it will return, and when it does, it will mean more discrimination, not less.”
The new campaign allows supporters of equality to write to federal politicians calling for the bill to be scrapped in light of the pandemic.
The bill has already faced substantial criticism, with thousands of submissions to the federal government from advocacy groups and community members calling for it to be altered or dropped.