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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Gays would be worse off under Paterson bill: Law Council

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The draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) Bill 2017 to legalise same-sex marriage, released by Senator James Paterson yesterday, represents an ‘extraordinary and perilous’ winding back of Australia’s anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality, according to the Law Council of Australia.

President, Fiona McLeod SC, said while the Paterson Bill acknowledges concerns of those holding traditional views of marriage, ‘it goes well beyond the issue of marriage in a number of crucial respects.’

‘Australia’s anti-discrimination laws were amended in 2013 to enact important protections for LGBTI people in recognition of the unacceptable levels of discrimination. This Bill will encroach on many of these protections in an extraordinary and perilous way.’

‘For example, the Bill would allow people to refuse to provide goods and services on the grounds of belief, thought and conscience taking us well beyond religious beliefs into unchartered waters.

‘You could potentially see a situation where a hire car company could leave their customers stranded on the way to a marriage ceremony simply because the driver held a thought or belief against it. This is even if the belief had nothing to do with religion,’ Ms McLeod said.

Ms McLeod said freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right. Discrimination on personal attributes, including sexual orientation, is contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and our international obligations.

‘The right to freedom of religion also appears in international law. While the freedom to have religious beliefs is also protected unconditionally, the manifestation or expression of those beliefs or religion may be subject to limitation where it impacts upon other fundamental rights.’

Ms McLeod said the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, endorsed by five government members including Senator Dean Smith, already extended existing protections for freedom of religious expression in the context of marriage and was a reasonable compromise.

‘The Smith Bill supports the protection of religious freedoms in two key ways. It permits ministers of religion and religious marriage celebrants to refuse to solemnise a marriage and it allows bodies established for religious purposes to refuse to provide goods or services for the purposes of the solemnisation of a marriage,’ Ms McLeod said.

‘While the Law Council does not endorse every detail of the Smith Bill it represents a better balance from a human rights perspective and represents greater fairness, including those affected by winding back anti-discrimination laws,’ Ms McLeod said.

 


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5 COMMENTS

    • No legislated laws are perfect. None we have so far are and there is no expectation there will be in the future.

      Therefore listing exceedingly remote possibilities and scenarios that “might” happen, which with enough fantasy we can list dozens, does not justify nor substantiate the probable and general outcomes of a propose Bill of legislation.

      One core tenet of western democracy and human right themselves, is that you do not stamp on the actual and valid rights of the many to satisfy the fears of the few.

      Recognised religious rights and rights of conscience exist for very good reasons, and a tiny percentage of misuse of these never justifies removing them

      Otherwise we would have no LGBTI rights recognition at all. The pendulum swings both ways folks.

      What outrage would ensue if some hardline anti-LGBTI people were to go into a printer known to be owned by a gay couple, and orders a series of hardline anti-LGBTI posters, including graphics development and messaging?

      What media chaos, moralism & outrage would ensue if a court then forced the gay couple to design, develop and print the posters?

      Rights of conviction & free will apply to all or none… No “holy cows” and protected species. Human rights DO NOT extend to forcing one baker to make your cake when the next 2-20 are 1-5 kms away… If there is choice then go to the next.

      Otherwise you are doing nothing else but seeking to force people you do not like to do what you know they have strong reservations, beliefs or convictions about.

      That folks, is the death of democracy & human rights in general.

  1. I think most Australians are more concerned with OUR freedom to voice our opinions on same sex marriage than the rights of homosexuals NOT to be offended.

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