What will religious discrimination bill mean for Australians?

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 What will religious discrimination bill mean for Australians?
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Highlights 

  • The Religious Discrimination Bill aims to eliminate discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity.
  • With this bill, the government targets to protect religious freedom in a tolerant multi-cultural liberal democracy.
  • The bill introduced ahead of the General Elections 2022 is being considered an attempt by the Morrison government to target religious voters.
  • There’s a huge divide of opinions on the Bill in question, raising doubts if it would protect and promote "freedom" of religion for all or just guard a few.

Politics is one battle that does not remain confined to any single arena; it encompasses all spheres, even religion. At a time when the General Elections 2022 is on the horizon, the Australian government led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison released the third and final draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 during a Parliament session of late.

The bill makes discrimination unlawful if it occurs on the basis of a religious belief or activity in terms of provision of goods, services and accommodation, as well as education, work, and access to premises.

With the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021, the federal government promises the people of Australia to protect citizens in a tolerant multi-cultural liberal democracy.

Also read: Voter Integrity Bill – Does Australia need this proposed electoral reform?

 General Elections 2022

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Marked facets of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021

The federal government has released the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 recognising the freedom of all people to have or adopt a religion or belief of their choice. Moreover, it recognises freedom to express religion or belief by an individual or in community with others.

The prime elements include:

  • Eliminate discrimination against people on the basis of religious belief or activity.
  • Ensure that everyone has the same rights to equality before the law, regardless of religious belief or activity.
  • Promote recognition and acceptance within the community so that people of all religious beliefs have the same fundamental rights.

Also, as per the Bill, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on basis of religious belief or activity. On these grounds, the employer can’t deny opportunity access for promotion, transfer, or training. Also, employees can’t be denied access to other employment benefits.

In case of violation of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021, complaints can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission about conduct that is unlawful.

What’s the debate surrounding “religious freedom”?

There’s a huge divide of opinions on the Bill in question.

Religious groups are coming forward in support of the bill and wish it to be passed before the general elections 2022. However, many other sections of the population hold the view that under the guise of religious 'freedom', the Bill will give way to more incidents of discrimination against vulnerable groups, such as LGBTIQ+ people, minority faith groups, women, and people with disabilities.

Only time will tell if Religious Discrimination Bill would protect and promote "freedom" of religion for all or just guard a few.

ALSO READ: Prime Minister Scott Morrison charged of ‘breathtaking double standard’

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