The Australian government decided to delay the introduction of its religious discrimination bill to give legislators more time to get the laws right.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “We made a commitment to Australians to address this issue at the last election and we are keeping faith with that commitment in a calm and considered process. We’re about listening and getting this right.”
Our government takes the issue of discrimination against Australians for their religious beliefs very seriously. —Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Many faith-based groups criticized the proposed laws as they felt it was not doing enough to protect religious freedom, reports Premier.
Church leaders wrote the PM that, “We take the view that it would be better to have no Religious Discrimination Act rather than a flawed one.”
One of the issues raised against the bill was the use of the term ‘religious body’ to identify a church or a Christian school. Many said it didn’t include faith-based groups engaged in commercial activities, such as a Christian campsite or shop.
Religious groups and equality advocates welcomed that the government has delayed the introduction of the bill, reports The Guardian.
Homelessness service provider, Vincent Care Victoria, one of the groups that was pleased with the postponement of the bill. Quinn Pawson, the chief executive of Vincent Care Victoria, said, “We hope they use this time to listen to the wide range of people from many faiths and beyond who have genuine concerns that legislation in its current form only represents a small proportion of Australians.”
Pawson added that faith-based groups wanted a religious discrimination bill “that is consistent with all other anti-discrimination law by protecting people of faith, not giving them permission to discriminate.”
Bronwyn Pike from Uniting Vic.Tas said the nonprofit organization supports the idea behind the bill, but it should be all-encompassing. “In drafting this bill, we need to think carefully about how it will affect all communities. That includes in rural and regional areas, where minorities can feel particularly isolated and vulnerable.”
The Prime Minister assured that the government will do the necessary actions to have the religious discrimination bill that will protect every Australian. “Our government takes the issue of discrimination against Australians for their religious beliefs very seriously.”