Supporting growth and sustainability of trans and gender diverse peer support across Victoria. Supported by the Victorian Government.
Transgender Victoria urges the Senate to not support the Religious Discrimination Bill in its current form. It is vitally important that religious people and people of faith are protected from being discriminated against on the basis of their faith. However, the current proposals go further than this and create potential to license religious people to discriminate against other minorities and marginalised groups.
Whilst the associated amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act arising from the February 9 & 10 House of Representatives debate are promising and provide potential for protection from expulsion for LGBTQ+ students, provisions such as ‘statement of belief’ in the Religious Discrimination Bill will still enable unacceptable discrimination. The impacts of the proposed bill as it stands will be far reaching, divisive and dangerous, and cause discrimination and harm to a wide range of people - not just in the LGBTIQ+ community, but to women, disabled people, people living with HIV, people from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, and even people of faith themselves. We have to also consider that there are many LGBTIQ+ people of faith who may face exclusion from their own religious communities as a result of this bill.
The potential for LGBTIQ+ people to be discriminated against in extreme ways, including in workplace, education and healthcare settings (including as drastic as termination of employment), could become protected as a ‘statement of belief’ reflective of faith - despite the fact that this undermines some existing state and territory protections from discrimination. Harmful statements which are the drivers of stigma, isolation and poor mental health outcomes (including suicide risk) - such as healthcare or support workers telling disabled people or people with HIV that their conditions are divine punishment - could become defensible as ‘statements of belief.’
Ultimately, while it is vital that religious people and people of faith have the freedom to practice their religion, it is also important that other marginalised people have freedom from discrimination. The current proposals create and promote opportunities for unacceptable discrimination that will cause harm to already at risk communities, and contribute to drivers of poor economic, health and mental health outcomes amongst those communities. In a sociopolitical environment where we aim towards reducing suicide, fostering better mental health outcomes, creating opportunities for economic mobility and job retention, and creating equality and a fair go for all Australians, the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill undermines those values which we all benefit from.
Transgender Victoria urges the Senate to not support the Religious Discrimination Bill in its current form, due to the far reaching and harmful impacts this will have, and the current social inequities it will exacerbate.
For those who would like to get involved and help ensure our community's concerns are heard:
One of the most crucial items you can take is contacting Senators to express our community's concerns, and ask them to consider not supporting the Bill.
Respectful, heartfelt and considered emails, letters and phone calls can have a great impact.
For those who need support at this time:
Rainbow Door - (Free Service)
P: 1800 729 367
Text: 0480 017 246
10am - 5pm, 7 days a week
Qlife - (Free Service)
p: 1800 184 527
3pm - Midnight, 7 days a week
Find our previous statement on the Religious Discrimination Bill here