NSW and Feds move on freedom of religion

NSW and Feds move on freedom of religion

The NSW and federal parliaments are moving to protect freedom of religion. But the same-sex marriage lobby and the “modern Liberals” are fighting it all the way, casting doubt over whether freedom will be protected.

Steps to address the unfinished business of the same-sex marriage campaign are underway in both the New South Wales and federal parliaments.

The weaponisation of anti-discrimination laws against Australians who hold to the truth about marriage and gender was a consequence of the yes vote in the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey and the subsequent amendment to Marriage Act.

The then Turnbull Government’s response was the Ruddick Commission into freedom of religion resulting in two failed draft bills.

A third bill is to be introduced before Christmas by new Attorney General Michaelia Cash but so-called “modern Liberals” in her own party are trying to render it almost meaningless.

In the four years since the marriage plebiscite, attacks on freedom of religion and speech have escalated.

I am but one of many people fighting litigation brought by activists who are emboldened to seek to quash freedom of speech.

Others are pressured to be silent at work, surrounded by people wearing rainbow lanyards and hosting “wear it purple day” morning teas.

Parents are afraid to speak up about dangerous genderfluid indoctrination programs in their children’s classrooms.

Australians are fearful about speaking of their view that marriage is between one man and one woman or that it is wrong to call mothers “birthing people” or breast feeding “chest feeding”.

Wedding businesses whose owners believe marriage is between one man and one woman have been forced to close.

So-called “gay conversion” therapy laws now criminalise parents, doctors and counsellors who suggest to a child that their body is perfect the way it is.

High-profile people like Israel Folau have lost their jobs because they paraphrased the Bible on social media.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Martyn Iles is right to hold out for the so-called “Folau clause” to be included in Cash’s bill, despite the best efforts to sabotage it by the “modern Liberals”.

It’s nonsensical that activists can vilify Christians on social media with impunity yet a post paraphrasing the Bible outside work hours can cost a career.

The demonisation of our greatest tennis player Margaret Court has been relentless yet those who ran the same-sex marriage campaign, now called “Equality Australia”, want unequal laws.

So it was welcome news this week when NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman announced the Berejiklian Government would largely adopt One Nation MLC Mark Latham’s religious freedom bill.

Speakman’s media release said:

The NSW Government will introduce a bill in Parliament to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), adding religion to existing protected grounds of disability, sex, race, age, marital or domestic status, homosexuality, transgender status and carer’s responsibilities.

Neil Foster, Associate Professor at Newcastle Law School, wrote on the Eternity News website that this was a sensible and long overdue reform.

Foster tackled head-on Equality Australia’s claims that protecting religious freedom would somehow hurt the freedoms of gay people.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald quotes commentators suggesting that the Bill will allow “wholesale discrimination against women and the LGBTIQ+ community under the guise of religious freedoms”. These concerns are exaggerated. All discrimination laws in Australia ban detrimental treatment of people on irrelevant grounds relating to their particular “protected characteristics”. But all such laws recognise that sometimes taking into account such characteristics is relevant to decision-making. Sex discrimination laws recognise legitimate roles for differentiating men’s and women’s sporting competitions. Race discrimination laws allow someone from a particular race to be employed as an actor playing someone of that race.

Similarly, it is relevant when a Christian or Islamic school, for example, has a policy that its teachers must support the religious worldview of the school, which has been set up so that parents can send their children there to grow up as part of a faith-based community. There is no “wholesale” discrimination in religious groups operating in accordance with their religious ethos, just as there is none when political parties employ people who support their political views.

Foster’s comments are important because since same-sex marriage passed, Equality Australia’s leader Anna Brown, who was also one of the key leaders of the Yes campaign to redefine marriage, has spent the last four years backing legal cases that harass Christian schools for their beliefs on marriage.

Sadly the Yes campaign convinced Australians to vote for same-sex marriage by telling them there would be “no consequences” to the freedoms of Australians who believed marriage could only be between one man and one woman.

The love of the couple was the only consideration, no one else’s freedoms would be affected, they said.

That they lied is proved by their vigorous obstruction to both the NSW and federal parliament’s attempts to make good on the promises of their own campaign.

The proponents of “diversity” now seek to be the enforcers of uniformity.

The NSW government will await the outcome of Cash’s bill before seeking to harmonise freedom laws in NSW.

The next six months will be a pivotal time in the battle for freedom of speech and religion in modern Australia.

Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communications for the Christian Democratic Party. The Reverend Honourable Fred Nile MLC has asked Lyle to succeed him in the NSW Parliament when he retires in November. To keep in touch with Lyle and the CDP, sign up here.