Australia: Religious discrimination bill will safeguard people of faith, says attorney general

Cases such as Israel Folau’s would be captured by the government’s proposed religious discrimination bill, according to the attorney general, who says the legislation will include a “powerful avenue” for people of faith who face “indirect” unfair treatment.

However, Christian Porter is holding firm against calls from conservative MPs to establish a religious freedom act, saying such legislation could see “sensitive public policy” determined by the courts as it adjudicated competing rights.

The move to assure MPs of the merits of the proposed religious discrimination act comes after Rugby Australia terminated the contract of star player Folau for a widely condemned social media post in which he said “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” would go to hell unless they repented. The case is headed to the federal court.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, told the first partyroom meeting of the new parliament that he did not want the issue of religious freedom to become divisive or politicised. He urged MPs to give Porter feedback through a series of workshops. He has also flagged a bipartisan approach, saying he wants to work with Labor on the “deeply personal” issue.

Equality Australia has said it agrees in theory that discrimination on the basis of religion should be outlawed, but has warned that the new law must be a “shield not a sword” against LGBTI people. Read more via Guardian