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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3763 ..


by the grant funding provided by the ACT government, which is being led by women working in construction on the ground and supported by their executive—will have a positive and lasting impact on women in the construction industry.

I recommend Ms Lawder do further investigation before she condemns the work and initiative being undertaken by grassroots members and their elected leadership of workers’ organisations.

Legislation—religious discrimination

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (5.37): While we have all been enjoying some important and civil debate on the issues that impact Canberrans, I unfortunately have to tell you that it has not been the same up on the hill today. I have been quite nervous and disappointed to see that the federal government is yet gain prosecuting its case for the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021—yet another sign that, unfortunately, this federal government holds the far right of Australian politics responsible for its election and is making sure that it makes good on its commitment.

I want to read from some comments from Equality Australia, who are key allies, particularly to the LGBTIQA+ community, and who have been steadfast in their opposition to the bill. According to Equality Australia, the Religious Discrimination Bill aims to protect people of faith and without faith from discrimination in certain areas of public life, such as employment, education and the provision of goods and services. For example, it will provide protection in certain circumstances for someone who is treated unfairly at work or turned away from a restaurant or shop because they have, or do not have, a religious belief, and will provide protection for someone who is unreasonably prevented from wearing religious dress as part of work or school uniforms.

But, importantly, the bill also takes away rights from people who are currently protected under anti-discrimination laws, like ours here in the ACT. Faith-based institutions will maintain special exemptions allowing them to discriminate against staff, students and people who rely on certain services. The Religious Discrimination Bill takes away existing anti-discrimination protections, including on the grounds of race, religion, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Employees, students and people accessing goods and services may not be protected under existing anti-discrimination laws where a person makes offensive, uninformed, insulting, demeaning or damaging statements based in or about religion.

For example, the proposed laws may protect a boss, colleague, teacher, doctor, taxi driver or other service provider who says to a colleague, student, customer or client, “Menstruating women are unclean,” “Homosexuality is a sin,” “Disability is caused by the devil,” “Every child should have a mother and a father who are married,” “God made only men and women,” “HIV is a punishment from God,” and “People who do not believe in Jesus cannot get into heaven.” Statements which are malicious, that harass, threaten, intimidate or vilify, or which encourage serious offences, will not be protected. But where the line will be drawn between statements made in good faith that are allowed, and those which are not, is unclear—purposely unclear. This is


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