Australia: Calls to Remove ‘Blanket Religious Exemptions’ for Faith-Based Charities

Two prominent legal charities have urged a Religious Freedom Review panel to support the LGBTI community, by narrowing “the blanket religious exemptions which allow religious organisations to discriminate”.  

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) and Justice Connect’s (JC) Not-for-profit Law Service both recently made submissions to a religious freedom inquiry, led by former Liberal MP Philip Ruddock.

The review was announced in November last year, in wake of concerns raised by church leaders across Australia that religious freedom was under threat due to the legislation of same-sex marriage.

HRLC’s submission recommended that: “Existing exemptions that allow religious organisations to discriminate in the provision of facilities, goods and services [and employment] should be repealed and replaced with a general limitations clause”.


Anna Brown, the director of legal advocacy at HRLC, said that existing religious exemptions went too far.

“People are largely free to observe and practice their faith in Australia. We actually need to narrow broad exemptions for religious bodies in discrimination law that prevent vulnerable people, including LGBTI people, from accessing critical services. This inquiry is an opportunity to get the balance right,” Brown said.

Read more via ProBono