Australian national LGBTI lobby group, just.equal, has cautioned Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten not to water-down protections for LGBTI people in the name of religious freedom.
The call comes in the wake of Federal Minister Dan Tehan and other Christian conservatives pushing back against the success of the marriage equality campaign from last year and demanding special federal religious protections.
Just-Equal spokesperson Brian Greig said the movement for so-called ‘religious freedom’ is ‘just a smokescreen for LGBTI discrimination.’ “When marriage equality was achieved in the USA, evangelical Christians sought to undermine it with a new ‘religious freedom’ movement aimed at passing laws to allow people of faith to refuse service to same-sex couples,” he said.
“This culture war has been playing out in US courts over wedding cakes and the issuing of marriage licences in county courts. Now conservative Christian lobbyists want to import this culture war into Australia with proposals to allow anyone with a prejudice against LGBTI people to be able to refuse us services, including any business or school with a faith link.”
“They want to go back to a time when it was okay to put a sign on a window saying ‘no blacks’ or ‘no Irish’, but this time the sign will say ‘no gays’.”
A YouGov Galaxy Poll commissioned by Just-Equal in April found Australians are against discrimination against LGBTI people by faith-linked schools:
- 82 percent of Australians opposed church schools having the right to expel LGBTI students.
- 79 percent opposed LGBTI teachers being sacked from religious schools if they get married under the new Commonwealth marriage law passed last year.
- 78 percent of Australians said church schools should not be entitled to receive taxpayer funds if they discriminate against LGBTI teachers and students.
“When religious conservatives talk about religious freedom, what they really mean is freedom to discriminate against anyone they don’t like,” said Mr Greig. “Religious conservatives don’t want a legislative shield to protect their faith, they want a legislative sword to cut down the anti-discrimination laws that protect everyone else.”
“Yet we know from the very strong Yes result across the country from the marriage equality postal survey last year, Australians want more equality for LGBTI citizens, not less.”
Just.equal is seeking a commitment from Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader Shorten to oppose any laws that roll-back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI people in the name of “religious freedom.”
For more information, visit: www.equal.org.au for details.