Religious Freedom Exemptions Proposed Ahead Of Postal Vote Result

Australian politicians propose religious exemptions to marriage equality legislation.


Australian Yes campaigners say a proposed same-sex marriage bill is so filled with religious exemptions that it could lead to state-sanctioned discrimination.

A bill proferred by Liberal party senator, James Paterson, would grant those opposed to same-sex marriage an ‘objection of conscience’ clause if marriage equality becomes law.

The bill would protect not only religious entities but also parents, school teachers, charities and businesses who oppose gay unions, reports Al Jazeera.

Paterson’s bill was not well-received by Yes advocates. “Australians are voting to make our country a fairer and more equal place, not to take us back to a time where people can be denied service at a shop,” Anna Brown of the Equality Campaign said in a statement.

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Advocates have warned that the bill is so full of religious and moral exemptions that could see state-sanctioned discrimination harking back to the days of the ‘White Australia policy’, reports News AU.

A separate bill drawn up by Liberal Senator Dean Smith to legalise gay marriage contains exemptions that would allow religious organisations to refuse to conduct gay marriages. Smith’s bill received bipartisan support.

Regardless, any new legislation would only come into force if there is a vote on whether to legalise same-sex marriage, and such a vote will only happen if the results of the postal survey on the subject are favourable.

By November 7 – the final day for voters to return their postal surveys – 12.6 million (78.5%) of the 16 million eligible voters have returned their ballots. The survey, asks voters to answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ the question ‘should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’

At last count, 64% reported having ticked ‘yes’ and 31% having ticked ‘no’.

The full results of the postal survey are expected on Wednesday, November 15.

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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