Privilege for Prejudice and Perverse Outcomes: The Proposed Religious Discrimination Bills

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    In a world where, historically, religion has been the cause of much suffering and oppression, the rights around freedom of religious expression are often in tension with other human rights. The Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 (‘RDB’), the Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021 (‘RDCA’) and the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (‘HRLA’) (collectively, ‘the religious discrimination bills’) propose inter alia to give equal weight to rights of religious expression with other human rights, and to allow religious bodies to engage in conduct that further erodes the already limited protections for LGBTIQ+ individuals under existing anti-discrimination legislation in Australia. While this is the stated aim of the bills, in practice, it privileges freedom of religion and religious expression over other human rights, which is problematic as religion has often been a main cause underlying the abrogation of human rights throughout history. Where freedom to discriminate is granted to a religious body, an even greater potential arises for an unfair or unjust outcome due to the power imbalance between the religious body and individual natural persons. Where that religious body is a corporation, the extended right to interfere with or abrogate human rights is being granted to a non-human entity. This paper examines some problems arising from the proposed religious discrimination bills in Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-35
    Number of pages7
    JournalCourt of Conscience
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2022


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