'Yes' for marriage equality, 'Yes' for religious freedom panel
24 November 2017
Following the successful ‘yes’ vote, the Law Council is advocating for the swift passing of Senator Dean Smith’s Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill with minimal amendment.
We believe this bill strikes the right balance between the protection of religious freedom and the protection from discrimination.
We were concerned last week to learn the details of Senator James Paterson’s Bill to legalise same-sex marriage, which we believed represented an ‘extraordinary and perilous’ winding back of Australia's anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality. We campaigned hard against this Bill and were pleased to see it withdrawn.
We do however support the Prime Minister’s announcement of an expert panel chaired by the Hon Phillip Rudduck, to examine the human right to religious freedom.
Decoupling the important debate around religious freedom from the straight-forward Senator Dean Smith Bill to legalise same-sex marriage, is the right thing to do.
While freedom of religion is crucial right, we believe there is no need for drastic change.
By establishing the religious freedom expert panel and separating the issue of religious freedom from debate to legalise same-sex marriage, the government is ensuring that any debate about religious freedom is not short-changed, while minimising the possibility that a straight-forward bill to legalise same-sex marriage is not further complicated or delayed.
As we have continuously argued, Australians were not asked to vote on the complex intersection between religious freedom and anti-discrimination protection, they were asked if same-sex couples should marry and they delivered a resounding ‘yes’.
Enacting the will of the people and swiftly passing the Senator Dean Smith Bill must now be priority.