Green Left: NSW legal groups call for new religious discrimination amendments to be rejected

Civil and legal rights groups are urging New South Wales Labor to rethink its amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977. They say religious exemptions in the current law are already discriminatory and the proposed changes are too vague, Green Left's Rachel Evans reports. 

Attorney General Michael Daley introduced the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Vilification) Bill 2023 on June 28, saying the bill “will also protect people who do not hold religious beliefs or affiliations or who do not engage in religious activity, in recognition that these are also beliefs about religious matters that should be protected”.

But Josh Pallas, President of NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL), said there is “uncertainty” around the impact the bill could have on other fundamental rights. He said the changes were too broad and urged it be sent to Law Reform Commission for examination adding, it “cannot be fixed with amendments”.

NSWCCL are concerned the changes could criminalise those who engaged in “ridicule or vilification of institutions such as, for example, the Catholic Church, Hillsong, the Church of Scientology or the Anglican Church may be taken to constitute severe ridicule or vilification of persons who belong to those organisations, and thus made unlawful”.

“Trans people, people with intersex variations and sex workers also receive limited protections under NSW anti-discrimination law. Where is the protection for them? Why should religious organisations receive protection before them?,” Pallas asked.

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