Discriminating against people on the grounds of religious belief and activity will become a criminal offence in Australia, if the new religious discrimination bill proposed by the coalition government is passed. The announcement has given rise to related issues that could come to the fore if the bill is not well protected according to a report.
Rugby Australia’s star player Israel Folau is being held responsible for the backlash. His bible paraphrased comments on social media have been calling for action on one hand for the ones it offended and petitioning for religious expression freedom from others. Bottom line, it did not go well with anyone.
The proposed law has come under scrutiny. There are already laws in place that protect against hate speech and vilification. If the new law is enforced then it could override the existing one. An offence could be nullified by one superseding the other. For the LGBTQI advocates, this could be real cause for concern. The minority groups safety and rights will be at risk.
Equality Australia’s director of legal advocacy, Lee Carnie said “The answer to dealing with that national inconsistency that would arise if the Australian government passes indirect discrimination provisions is to also make sure that amendments to the sex discrimination act are passed that protect LBTQI+ people from vilification and hate speech.”
There is also an uprising against employers like Rugby Australia, who are held liable for Folau’s speech. But the case in point here is that, employers cannot control nor protect their employee’s speech or action if it does not directly relate to the said nature of the employment.