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Religious freedom bill needs more work

  • 13 February 2020
Submissions to the second draft of religious freedom bill have closed and activists are gearing up to speak out against the bill, which will likely be introduced to parliament in March.

I could give an overview and lay out the facts. How most people would agree that to discriminate against someone on the basis of their faith (or lack of faith) is wrong, but that’s only a part of what bill is intending to do. Like how the privileges given to people of faith in this bill are ‘unique’ to the western world. How in an ouroboros-like bit of logic, it will allow people of one faith to discriminate against another faith. Or that several mainstream faith organisations have made statements that they don’t agree with this bill.

And of course how healthcare professionals are already allowed to make conscientious objections, or how religious organisations like churches and schools already have the right to hire and fire people who injure their ‘religious susceptibilities’.

But other commentators have already done that. These points will be the same points you’ll hear in every news article or talking head on Q and A.

Instead, I think about how there are certain phrases that when I hear them give me a sort of sickly, fearful feeling. These phrases are things like, ‘traditional families’ or the even slipperier ‘Christian values’. In and of themselves, these phrases are just words. To me, and to many like me, they are sharp and pointed, weapons used to keep us in our place. I don’t need someone to tell me at work that because I’m queer I’m going to hell. Years of church and Catholic schooling and marriage equality debate have already made the coded language very clear when I’m not welcome.

I think about how I don’t remember feeling much religious freedom when I was young, faithful and told over and over again that my faith and my sexuality were inherently opposed. How I was systematically stripped of any comfort or trust I had in my own faith, in the assurance of God’s love.


'I’m not going to pretend to be objective. I absolutely have skin in this game. Bills like these aren’t just another bill to me, they are working to make sure I will always feel insecure in religious spaces.' As it always goes, the focus is on the ways the people like me could infiltrate faith spaces or hypothetically