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Equality Rights Alliance: Religious Discrimination Bill is bad for women

2 min read
Equality Rights Alliance

The largest alliance of women’s groups in Australia, the Equality Rights Alliance (ERA), has expressed alarm about the prospect of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021, in its latest form, becoming law.

“The Bill winds back protections for women and girls,” says ERA convenor Helen Dalley-Fisher.

“It pits the freedom of a person to put their beliefs into action against the right of women and girls to be free from discrimination.”

“This Bill is capable of protecting sexist, racist and other discriminatory statements as long as they constitute a religious belief and are politely or benevolently expressed, no matter how serious the outcome to the person affected.”

“This Bill also contradicts positive steps the Federal Government is taking to implement two breakthrough reports on workplace safety by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Repect@Work and Set the Standard.

“One of the biggest barriers to gender equality is tackling unconscious bias and discriminatory norms and cultures. The Religious Discrimination Bill will provide protection to people who express views which contribute to sexist cultures in workplaces and in our communities.”

On January 21, the Equality Rights Alliance appeared before a public hearing of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee looking into the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and associated bills.

ERA has been invited to appear on a panel alongside Diversity Council Australia, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Harmony Alliance, People with Disability Australia and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia.

“Protecting the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief does not have to happen at the expense of other rights,” says Ms Dalley-Fisher.

“ERA is strongly in favour of the domestic implementation of all international human rights instruments ratified by Australia, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as articulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” she added.

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Lourdes Antenor is an experienced writer who specialises in the not-for-profit sector and its affiliations. She is the content producer for Third Sector News, an online knowledge-based platform for and about the Australian NFP sector.

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