Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Proposed Amendments to NSW Anti-Discrimination Act Will Fuel Transphobic Hate

During the Morrision Government, there were attempts federally and state-wide to pass laws to provide religious people with antidiscrimination protections, yet these bills also contained measures that tended toward rights law to the point that those of faith would be empowered to discriminate, Sydney Criminal Lawyers' Paul Gregoire reports. 

These attempts to insert such laws into the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) (the Act), spearheaded by One Nation MLC Mark Latham were backed by the coalition. 

The Minn's Government response, the religious vilification bill isn’t the solution. Rather it’s a band-aid law to appease its waning religious vote, that, in the current political climate, will further send a destructive message to trans communities, while Labor is aware that the right approach is a new Act.

We oppose “the bill in its current form”, said NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Josh Pallas in a statement on 28 June: the day NSW attorney general Michael Daley introduced the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Vilification) Bill 2023 into state parliament.

“The bill cannot be fixed with amendments,” Pallas continued, going on to explain that “the only prudent way to facilitate such far reaching reform is through a referral of the whole Anti-Discrimination Act to the NSW Law Reform Commission”.

The NSWCCL also raises concerns about the broadness of the provisions of the proposed religious vilification law, as it appears it won’t only serve to protect religious individuals from severe ridicule, but it may also serve to protect religious beliefs or ideas, or indeed, religious institutions themselves.

For example, Pallas suggested the bill could lead to situations where ridiculing institutions like “the Catholic Church, Hillsong, the Church of Scientology or the Anglican Church may be taken to constitute… vilification of persons who belong to those organisations, and thus made unlawful.”

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