Thursday 13 December 2018

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Edward Santow
Edward Santow

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) welcomes the release of the Religious Freedom Review.

The Commission looks forward to assessing any legislative proposals when they are released in order to ensure that they appropriately balance human rights.

“It is critical that any new laws do not create new forms of discrimination.”

“Australia must protect the rights of all people, including those of faith and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or pregnant” said Commission President Rosalind Croucher.

The Commission welcomes the commitment of the Government to introduce religious freedoms protection.

The organisation has recommended such protections be introduced since its 1998 report titled Article 18.

“The use of exemptions to the Sex Discrimination Act is the wrong approach to protect religious freedom,” said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

“We call for the urgent repeal of the exemption in section 38 of the SDA relating to students and teachers.”

The Commission recommended repeal of this section as far back as 1992 in relation to sex, pregnancy and marital status.  

The AHRC welcomes the Government’s commitment to referring an Inquiry to the Commission to investigate the experience of discrimination and violence experienced by people of faith.

The Commission had recommended this in its submission to the Religious Freedom Review.

“Our goal should be to eliminate all forms of discrimination,” said Commissioner Santow.

“Australia’s piecemeal law in this area should be amended to prohibit all discrimination on the basis of religion and other belief, and also to remove the broad and out-dated exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act.”