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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 296 ..


It is no more acceptable for the mythical cake baker to discriminate against a gay or lesbian couple than it would be for them to discriminate against a single mother or an unwed man in a sexual relationship. I do not even think there is such a cake baker here in the ACT, but that diminishes the importance of this message.

Providing an avenue through the provision of goods and services for people to discriminate does not make it acceptable. Such moves would entrench discrimination, not remove it. That such an approach has even been suggested in 2018 shocks and disturbs me. If someone suggested a law targeting Christians, Jews or Muslims in that way, that person would be shunned by every serious political party in this country.

Time and time again Canberrans have shown that they support a strong human rights and anti-discrimination agenda. Unfortunately, the commonwealth parliament and the Australian government have blocked us from doing that on same sex marriage, when our laws were overturned, and on voluntary euthanasia with the Andrews bill remaining a stain on Australian democracy.

That brings me to an interesting point about the nature of the territory’s democracy. It is very disappointing that the hopes and desires of the Canberra community can still so easily be overridden by the commonwealth parliament. That is why this place passed a number of motions last year calling on the Commonwealth of Australia and the Australia government to respect the democratically constituted ACT Legislative Assembly and, through it, the self-determination of the people of the ACT.

With this in mind, the ACT government has made it clear that it does not want this Religious Freedom Review to result in a backward step for the ACT’s human rights framework. We do not want our elected representatives disempowered or our constituents disenfranchised from their own democracy.

The ACT’s model for protecting human rights, balancing freedoms and building an inclusive and harmonious community is one that has served our city well over the decades. I reject any suggestion that legislating for further discrimination would be a positive step for our community, city or country.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (3.50): We on this side firmly believe in the principle of freedom. We believe in freedom of thought, freedom of association and, of course, freedom of religion. It is fitting that this coming weekend we have the National Multicultural Festival in Canberra, a celebration of the contributions of so many people from around the world.

Of course, one of the pillars of most cultures, if not all cultures, historically has been faith and, with that, quite often religious institutions as well. We firmly believe that the faiths and religions that are expressed in Canberra make our society a better place. It seems that those opposite would rather a society, and in particular a city, without these religious organisations, without these faith communities. That is, in effect, what Ms Cody was just saying; that faith and religion are not a force for good. I strongly disagree with that. I firmly believe that the migrant communities we have in Canberra


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