Media Release: PM Blatantly Misleads Australians on Religious Freedom

The National Secular Lobby is voicing the deep concerns of the secular majority and urging Australians to call out the Prime Minister on his misleading and outrageous comments on religious freedom.

Scott Morrison gave two interviews last week indicating likely changes to discrimination laws in the wake of the Religious Freedom review. "What I can guarantee all Australians is that their religious freedoms will be protected by law if necessary," he told 7.30 host Leigh Sales.

When asked what religious freedoms were not protected by law right now, he was unable to give any examples, instead saying, "I believe there could be problems in the future."

To Alan Jones on 2GB he said, "If you don't have freedom of your faith, of your belief – and in whatever religion that is – then you don't have freedom in this country at all.”

This is blatantly misleading because Australians do have religious freedom:

  • Australia is a signatory to the International Covenant of Civic and Political Rights which states "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion."
  • There are no laws in Australia that limit the right to religious freedom. This was stated in a 2015 Law Council of Australia submission to the Human Rights Commission.
  • Moreover, many state and federal laws, including equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws, explicitly protect freedom of religion through various exemptions.

The National Secular Lobby believes the Religious Freedom review, established in the weeks before same-sex marriage was legalised, is the government capitulating to pressure from some MPs and influential religious lobbyists who wish to broaden the swathe of privileges that religions already enjoy.

An official government response to the review may be "a few months" away according to the PM, but the time to act is now. The NSL calls on all secular Australians to hold the Prime Minister to account on his comments, by publicly expressing their disgust and setting things straight, as highlighted above.

Secular Australians believe in an inclusive community where freedoms are universal, one person's freedom doesn't come at the cost of another's, and religious privilege is avoided. This current push for "religious liberty" will have serious, negative implications for Australia's free, secular and egalitarian future.

 

National Secular Lobby Limited

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