Religious Discrimination and Religious Freedom: An Evaluation of the Exposure Draft of the Australian Religious Discrimination Bill 2019
13 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 17, 2019
This paper undertakes an analysis and evaluation of the Exposure Draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill released by the Australian Attorney-General in August 2019. The Bill seeks to implement recommendations of the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom, which delivered its report in May 2018. The Bill would make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person's religious belief or activity, while also affirming the right of religious organisations to maintain their religious character and ethos. While the draft Bill is a very good first step, two problems are identified. First, there is inadequate protection of the ability of religious organisation such as schools and charities to maintain their religious ethos in their staffing decisions. Second, while the Bill seeks to prevent employers from unduly constraining their employees' rights to freedom of expression in their own private time, the safeguards offered by the Bill are too limited and use excessively vague terms to define the kinds of statements that will not be protected.
Keywords: religious freedom, religious discrimination, religious schools, religious charities, freedom of speech
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