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Snap protests today against religious discrimination bill

Last-minute protests have been announced around Australia against the Federal Government’s religious discrimination bill.

Rallies are being held this afternoon (Wednesday 9 February) in MelbourneSydneyAdelaideBrisbane, Perth, and Canberra.

The religious discrimination bill has been examined by a pair of government inquiries after much protest by the community.

The inquiry reports reflected support by both major parties.

Just.Equal Australia spokesperson Rodney Croome said that the reports fail to reflect the needs of the community and will weaken existing protections from discrimination.

“A recent national poll by YouGov Galaxy found that 77% of Australians oppose special exemptions to allow harmful speech in the name of religion, while 62% oppose religious schools being allowed to sack [LGBTIQA+] teachers,” said Croome.

“Yet in the two parliamentary reports, both major parties have either endorsed or left the door open to a federal religious discrimination bill that would do exactly that.

“Both reports gloss over the key problems with the federal bill, problems that have been raised by a wide array of legal experts, community organisations, professional bodies, and state governments.

“In their effort to chase the votes of the tiny number of Australians who want special legal privileges for religion, Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have abandoned the vast majority of Australians who want equal treatment for all.”

Thousands of people are expected to attend this afternoon’s snap protests across the country following the release of the parliamentary reports.

The religious discrimination bill has faced criticism since it was first proposed, with advocates saying it will erode the rights of LGBTIQA+ people as well as religious minorities, First Nations people, migrants, women, disabled people, and other marginalised groups.

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown has called the bill “a step backwards, winding back the hard-fought rights of women, people with disability, [LGBTIQA+] people, and even people of faith”.

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