Submission to NSW Inquiry into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
PIAC has consistently supported the introduction of standard protections against discrimination on the basis of religious belief and activity in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).
Unfortunately, the One Nation Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 deviates from standard anti-discrimination protections in a number of important and substantive ways, such that our submission’s first recommendation is that the legislation should not be passed by NSW Parliament.
Specific problems with the Bill include:
- An overly broad, vague and subjective definition of religious belief
- An overly broad definition of religious activity, which would extend to protect activity that is currently unlawful
- Unnecessary and unjustifiable limitations on the test for indirect discrimination (through proposed ‘protected activity’ provisions in relation to employment, qualifying bodies and education)
- Unnecessary and unjustifiable limitations on protections against discrimination on the basis of religious dress
- An overly broad, and unnecessary, definition of religious ethos organisation, which would protect discrimination by commercial businesses
- Overly broad, and unnecessary, new exceptions for religious ethos organisations
- An unprecedented right for religious organisations to bring discrimination complaints on their own behalf, when discrimination laws should instead protect the rights of natural persons, and
- A novel and unnecessary proposed objects clause for the Act that would skew anti-discrimination complaints processes in favour of religious individuals and organisations at the expense of the rights of others.
The Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 also fails to introduce civil prohibitions on vilification on the basis of religious belief, which PIAC believes are necessary to protect people from minority faiths.
Our submission makes a further 14 specific recommendations to remedy these major problems with the Bill, in addition to a final recommendation which calls for a comprehensive expert review of the Anti-Discrimination Act to consider the addition of religious belief and activity as protected attributes (in a standard way) as well as the Act’s overall modernisation.