7 October 2019

Luke Beck explains how Christian Porter’s so-called Religious Freedom Bill weaponises religious bigotry: “Most of the bill is a standard anti-discrimination law that protects people against being discriminated against on the basis of their religion, or lack thereof. To that extent, the bill operates as an uncontroversial protective shield. But the government has added in extra provisions that operate as a sword, allowing people to inflict harm on others. One of those swords is section 41, which establishes a right to make statements of belief. This right overrides all eight state and territory anti-discrimination laws and all of the existing federal anti-discrimination laws, including the Race Discrimination Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. … Strangely, the bill doesn’t give everyone the same sized sword. Religious people are given a bigger sword than non-religious people. The bill says only statements of belief on the topic of religion are covered for non-religious people. But for religious people, statements of belief on any topic whatsoever are covered.” Beck suggests the bias might be enough to render the bill unconstitutional, but that would still require a victim of religious bigotry (perhaps, to borrow one of Beck’s examples, a patient whose doctor tells them their disability is God’s punishment for their sin) to fight a case all the way to the High Court, against both the bigot’s and the Government’s legal teams.