The NSW Labor government on Wednesday introduced a bill to ban vilification on the grounds of religious belief or affiliation. The proposed changes to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 have been criticised as convoluted and vague and for failing to adequately protect vulnerable communities, Star Observer's Robbie Mason reports.
Civil liberties and law groups have criticised the bill due to its vagueness of terms in the bill which could mean organisations – and not just individuals – are protected from religious vilification.
Josh Palles, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties has said that "[NSWCCL] opposes the Bill in its current form. The Bill cannot be fixed with amendments.”
Pallas stated that the Bill could “create a situation in which severe 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.”
He also questioned the state government on its perceived hierarchy of priorities, stating “others within the community, 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?”
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