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What is the Religious Discrimination Bill?

By: Fernanda Dahlstrom

In 2017, in the wake of the same-sex marriage poll, the federal government announced its intention to look into the need to pass laws protecting against religious discrimination. In December 2019, the second draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill was released. The Bill contained provisions that guarded against discrimination on the basis of religion, but it also allowed for discrimination to occur in a variety of situations – where such discrimination is the result of religious conviction.

The Religious Discrimination Bill has been criticised as unnecessary and for upholding religious freedoms at the expense of other human rights. Human rights groups have slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for releasing the draft bill in the middle of the bushfire crisis, while many Australian had their attention focused elsewhere.

Others have welcomed the Bill, saying that religious discrimination requires specific legislative protections that exist for sex, age and disability.

So, what does the Religious Discrimination Bill seek to do?