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Religious discrimination bill shelved after marathon government sitting

The religious discrimination bill has been withdrawn by the Coalition after an all-night sitting of the House of Representatives.

The controversial bill has drawn criticism from marginalised groups since it was first raised, and amendments aiming to protect LGBTIQA+ students triggered backlash from conservatives.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said that she had “significant concerns” over the amendments to the bill, which had passed in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the backdown, The Guardian has reported.

“It’s long past time Mr Morrison stopped trying to blame everyone else, stopped playing politics with the lives of children, and worked with the parliament to fix his bills,” said Dreyfus.

Advocacy organisation Just.Equal Australia welcomed the shelving of the religious discrimination bill.

“The people who made this happen were the many community advocates who spoke out about the denigration and discrimination they would face if the bill passed,” said spokesperson Rodney Croome.

“We also thank those brave members of parliament who stood against their bill, and in some cases against their own party, in the name of fairness and inclusion.”

Croome said that the sage had “shown that both major parties lack clear, comprehensive policy in the area of [LGBTIQA+] rights”.

“It is ridiculous in this day and age that both Labor and the Liberals have to have marathon crisis meetings to discuss [LGBTIQA+] discrimination,” he said.

“We call on both parties to develop and implement clear [LGBTIQA+] policy positions. 

“To help this process, we call on the next government to have a Minister for Equality and to appoint an LGBTIQ+ Equality Commissioner to the Human Rights Commission.

“This Bill may have gone away for now, but the push by a minority of religious leaders to wind back our hard-fought rights will not.”

Just.Equal said that it will remain prepared to campaign against the bill if it returns later this year.

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