Coalition split over religious discrimination bill with one MP having ‘serious concerns’ over Folau clause

1 month ago 26

Coalition MPs are divided implicit the government’s revised spiritual favoritism bill, with the lawyer general, Michaelia Cash, holding urgent meetings with MPs earlier parliament returns to effort to resoluteness the issue.

The propulsion to present a measure successful the last sitting fortnight this twelvemonth comes astir 3 years aft the premier minister, Scott Morrison, promised to present a caller spiritual favoritism act aft a reappraisal into spiritual state undertaken by Philip Ruddock successful 2018.

Cash, who took implicit the bill’s advancement from Christian Porter erstwhile she became lawyer wide successful March, is present consulting connected a 3rd iteration of the draught authorities successful an effort to flooded interior absorption and fulfil an predetermination promise.

Three issues are understood to look immoderate absorption wrong the enactment room: the inclusion of a “Folau clause” that would springiness ineligible extortion to idiosyncratic expressing a connection of belief; conscientious objection provisions that would let wellness practitioners to garbage to supply definite treatment; and the quality for spiritual institutions to discriminate against unit connected the ground of religion to support a “faith-based ethos”.

The Australian Christian Lobby has boasted it successfully pressured the authorities into including a Folau clause – a proviso that would legally support an idiosyncratic from having their employment terminated arsenic a effect of them expressing their spiritual views. The contented gained prominence aft footballer Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for societal media posts suggesting homosexuals, adulterers, atheists and different “sinners” would spell to hell.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who attended 1 of a fig of briefings with Cash this week, said helium did not enactment the Folau clause.

“I conscionable person superior concerns astir a fig of issues successful narration to it [the bill] and the Folau clause is simply a large concern,” Entsch told Guardian Australia.

He said his presumption had not changed aft antecedently indicating helium would not enactment a measure that “reimposed” immoderate favoritism done a spiritual favoritism act.

The 3rd draught of the bill, which is inactive being finalised by Cash, comes much than 2 years aft Porter released the government’s archetypal vulnerability draught successful aboriginal 2019.

That bill, which was described arsenic “friendless”, received astir 6,000 submissions during the consultation process and was later revised aft the backlash.

The government’s second vulnerability draft, designed to appease concerns of spiritual groups, was roundly criticised by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Medical Association and LGBTQ+ groups.

Conservative MPs, however, are pushing for the measure to beryllium made a priority, informing that religion communities were expecting Morrison to present connected the committedness made earlier the past election.

It is understood that WA legislator Matt O’Sullivan spoke to the enactment country during the past sitting fortnight astir the issue, questioning the government’s priorities aft it signed disconnected connected a measure relating to the legalising of mitochondrial donation.

Before the past election, Morrison penned a five-page missive to the heads of churches, promising to legislate a spiritual favoritism enactment arsenic an predetermination commitment.

He said successful the missive that helium would present authorities “to marque it unlawful to discriminate connected the ground of a person’s spiritual content oregon activity, including connected the ground that a idiosyncratic does not clasp immoderate spiritual content oregon does not prosecute successful immoderate spiritual activity”.

Sign up to person the apical stories from Guardian Australia each morning

South Sydney Anglican Bishop Michael Stead would not remark connected his discussions with the authorities connected the authorities but said the measure was “well and genuinely overdue”.

“It’s indefensible that determination is not extortion for spiritual freedom,” Stead told Guardian Australia.

“We are precise keen to spot this resolved during this word of government, we don’t privation this to beryllium an predetermination contented and we would anticipation for bipartisan support, for the Labor party’s enactment of the bill.

“We recognise that Covid has had an impact, we are not insensitive to the information that a full batch of the government’s legislative timetable and commitments person been disrupted, but that is wherefore we are precise keen to spot it resolved now.”