Openly gay former Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe has joined several other public figures to appear in a video criticising the Australian Government’s current Religious Discrimination Bill.
The financed political group that has morphed from pushing marriage equality during that debate to one that inserts themselves into any equality debate, Equality Australia, has released the video across social media to encourage viewers to speak with their local MP’s about the new bill.
The Government suggests the proposed bill is aimed at protecting religious expression from being discriminated against in Australia.
In the video, Ian Thorpe states that the bill has been drafted to threaten and divide communities.
“The religious discrimination bill will give people a licence to discriminate,” Thorpe begins in the video.
He is joined by ex-Australian basketballer Lauren Jackson who complains that the bill would mean that Australians are less protected under the law.
“It will leave us all vulnerable,” Jackson said.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison released the second version of his proposed religious freedom laws, trying to balance the concerns of religious and non-religious groups.
“I gave a commitment that we would ensure that people would not be discriminated against in this country, as a basis of their religious beliefs or non-religious beliefs,” he said.
“There were lots of suggestions that this would be a divisive debate and I don’t believe it has been and I don’t believe it needs to be.”
Among 11 key changes, provisions around “conscientious objection” were narrowed so that a limited list of health professions would be covered by the protection.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the changes came after consultation from “all sides of this debate”.
“There are changes that have been suggested by human rights and LGBTI groups,” he said.
“There are changes that have been suggested by faith groups.”
The video that appeared on social media and also some selected media outlets also includes other people claiming they will be discriminated against from different walks of life.
Anastasia, listed as a woman with disabilities, sits with her dog complaining the new laws will mean she will be discriminated against.
“My support worker telling me that the disability is caused by the devil,” said Anastasia.
It also included a Doctor called Zac and a Reverand called Dale.
Ian Thorpe finished the video, “We need your voice,” with a message at the end suggesting you tell your local MP that you oppose the Religious Discrimination Bill.
The updated version of the bill is now on the Attorney-General’s website for viewing with submissions on the draft legislation closing on 31 January.
The Federal Parliament is likely to vote on the bill in the first half of 2020.
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