The Government’s Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill is, in part, legislative protection for outright bigotry. Any other description would be falsifying the language. It does not reflect the ideas of the vast majority of the electorate, whether they are believers or non-believers. That aside, it fails to pass the ethical standard expected of our leaders.
This law protects discrimination against single mothers, gays, lesbians, intersex, transsexuals, bisexuals, adulterers and de-facto couples and belongs to an era that no longer exists. And who knows who else is on the narrow-minded hit list. Such discrimination sends a strong message to the community that some people are – to paraphrase George Orwell – less equal than others in the eyes of the government of the day. The negative impact of this legislation may damage already vulnerable lives and in some cases be the straw that causes self-harm or even suicide.
David Nicholls, President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, said, “Repugnant religious bigotry will always be with us; the same cannot be said for governments that openly support it. The Prime Minister is backing a minority view of overly zealous religious leaders and followers and has been advised badly on this matter.
“Australia’s ever-creeping soft theocracy, which includes the Howard debacle of chaplains in state schools and progressive legislation not enacted or stymied by faith initiatives, has become a matter only controllable by the voter,” Nicholls said.
“Tasmania removed the ability of religions to discriminate on such grounds about ten years ago,” Nicholls stated. “As far as we know, it has not sunk beneath the waves or suffered any inconvenience because of it.”
Of great concern is that such power given to major and minor functionaries in publicly-funded institutions is open to abuse. How many people will be wrongly condemned in workplace situations is questionable, but given how religion is acting despicably in other areas it will no doubt be appreciable.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia urges that the Labor Government re-evaluate this nonsense legislation, bringing it in line with the values of today’s secular society.