Australia: Scott Morrison: at least as many voters want religious freedom as marriage equality

As many, and “probably” more, Australians want protection of religious freedoms than want same-sex marriage legalised, the treasurer, Scott Morrison, has said.

In an interview on ABC’s 7.30, Morrison said same-sex marriage was a “done deal” and a “finished debate” but parliament now needed to legislate a bill for 100% of Australians, not just the 61.6% who voted for marriage equality.

The comments follow Morrison’s calls over the weekend for parents to be able to withdraw their children from classes that do not accord with their values and to protect organisations that express the view marriage is between a man and a woman.

Asked why he was representing the views of 40% of Australians who wanted religious freedom protected, Morrison said: “I don’t believe that only 40% of Australia believe there should be religious protection in this bill, I believe that figure is much higher.”

Broadcaster Leigh Sales pointed out that more than 60% of people voted for same-sex marriage without any of the additional legal changes Morrison was calling for.

The treasurer replied that while the marriage debate “has concluded” the parliament now had to “finalise a bill that recognises that, legislated that and now adds to that religious protections as much as can be supported by the parliament and that’s what I’ll be pursuing”.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has said marriage equality should be legislated this year and opened the door to a separate religious freedom bill to be considered next year, leaving some conservatives angry that he and the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, were not arguing more vocally for amendments in the marriage bill.

Despite Morrison’s claim that his advocacy sought to represent the views of 100% of Australians, Labor and the Greens have already warned the government not to attempt to introduce amendments that enact new forms of discrimination against LGBTI Australians. Read more via the Guardian