Religious discrimination bill may breach constitution by allowing doctors to refuse treatment

Key provisions of the religious discrimination bill may be unconstitutional because they allow medical practitioners to refuse treatment, and privilege statements of religious belief, an academic has warned.

Luke Beck, a constitutional and religious freedom expert at Monash University, warned the Coalition’s exposure draft bill may be incompatible with international law and therefore not supported by the external affairs power in the constitution.

The submission echoes concerns from the Australian Human Rights Commission and Public Interest Advocacy Centre that the bill will licence discriminatory statements about race, sexual orientation and disability on the grounds of religion, and that it privileges religion over other rights.

The bill has been criticised for overriding state and federal discrimination law, including section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits speech that offends, insults or humiliates people based on race.

Beck argued the bill provided a “bigger sword” to religious people’s statements of belief than those of non-religious people. Statements of belief can be made “on any topic whatsoever” provided they “may reasonably be regarded” as in accordance with a person’s religious beliefs.

By contrast, statements of non-belief must deal only with the topic of religion and “arise directly” from the fact the person does not hold a religious belief, the associate professor said.

Beck argued the different standard might breach the international law requiring “equal footing” to be given to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Because the bill relies on the external affairs power for its validity there was “significant constitutional doubt” about the provisions, he said.

Beck and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Piac), in separate submissions, also criticised the bill’s attempt to give health practitioners a right to refuse to provide services if the refusal is motivated by the practitioner’s religious beliefs.

Piac noted the provision was not limited to procedures such as abortion and euthanasia, meaning it could “protect the outright refusal of services to people from certain groups” by “a long list of health professions, including occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy and podiatry”.

The chief executive of Piac, Jonathon Hunyor, told Guardian Australia the bill “clearly and deliberately” privileged religion over other rights, particularly in the statement of belief provisions.

Beck and Piac argued the provision would allow people to denounce single mothers, trans people, people with a disability or of different faiths, provided they invoked God or described their targets as sinners.

Piac said the bill would fracture the existing regime which lets states set their own laws, which would constitute “a radical and unwarranted step”.

The AHRC submitted that “overriding … all other Australian discrimination laws is not warranted, sets a concerning precedent, and is inconsistent with the stated objects of the bill”. Rather than recognise the indivisibility and universality of human rights, the provision “seeks to favour one right over all others”.

Both Beck and the AHRC raised the spectre of discrimination complaints made under state law being forced into expensive litigation in federal courts because low-cost state tribunals lack jurisdiction to adjudicate on the clash of federal and state law.

The AHRC endorsed the elements of the bill that protect against discrimination on the grounds of religion where the law is equivalent to existing federal protections for race, sex, disability and age.

But it warned against “unique provisions that have no counterpart in other anti-discrimination laws and appear to be designed to address high-profile individual cases”.

The bill bans employers from setting codes of conduct that indirectly discriminate on the grounds of religion, which attorney general Christian Porter has said will provide protection for people such as Israel Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia for social media posts claiming homosexuals will go to hell.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/30/religious-discrimination-b...

Laws forcing priests to report child abuse passed in Victorian parliament

The Victorian government says it hopes it does not have to jail priests who fail to report child abuse revealed in the confession box.

The state's Parliament passed laws on Tuesday carrying sentences of up to three years for failing to report abuse, but Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday morning that he did not know of any convictions under Victoria's broader mandatory reporting laws, in place for 25 years.

The Premier said the laws, and the new legislation passed on Tuesday, were intended to create a culture in which all abuse or mistreatment of children was reported, regardless of how it came to light.

Mr Andrews said the bill, which passed the upper house on Tuesday night with bipartisan support, was intended to send a message all the way to the top of the Catholic Church in Rome.

"The most important thing is to send a message that the law is to be taken seriously, if people don’t obey the law, then the penalties are very significant," the Premier said.

"The culture is one where people have taken the laws and their responsibilities in terms of mandatory reporting very seriously."

The changes will bring religious leaders into line with police, teachers, doctors, nurses, school counsellors and youth justice workers who are required to report child abuse to authorities.

"The special treatment for churches has ended and child abuse must be reported," Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said in the wake of Tuesday night's Parliamentary vote.

The Catholic Church has insisted priests would be obliged to defy the laws, with Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli previously stating he was prepared to go to jail rather than break the confessional seal.

"For Catholics, confession is a religious encounter of a deeply personal nature. It deserves confidentiality," he said in August.

"They'll have to get the prisons ready," declared Melbourne's best-known Catholic priest, Father Bob Maguire, on Wednesday.

Asked whether the clergy would refuse to report abuse to the police, he said: "I presume so. Well, they have to in principle."

Father Bob said he understood the rationale behind the laws, but said tensions remained between the expectations of secular society and the practices of the church.

“We’d like to ensure the community is safeguarded against another attack and the person who's the predator is dealt with by restorative justice, not by retributive justice."

A spokesman said Archbishop Comensoli would not be responding publicly to the new legislation on Wednesday, and referred The Age to the Archbishop's August remarks.

But Mr Andrews said the state government now expected church workers to obey the law of Victoria, not rules written in Rome.

"I've made it very clear that the law of our state is written by the Parliament of Victoria, it's not made in Rome and there are very significant penalties for anybody and everybody who breaks the Victorian law," the Premier said.

Mr Andrews' government introduced the legislation in early August, compelling priests to break the seal of confession to report disclosures of child abuse, but the Coalition stopped short of supporting it at the time.

However, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien later revealed he would back the bill.

The Age revealed in August that Archbishop Comensoli began discussions with authorities a year ago about child safety and the principles of confession, despite his claim that the church was not properly consulted on new laws.

The archbishop, who recently marked his first year in the job, pushed back against the legislation in an opinion piece in the The Age, in which he says the bill is "unworkable" and shows a lack of understanding about the act of confession, particularly the anonymity of penitents.

The introduction of the legislation follows a recommendation in the 2017 final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that clergy and confession no longer be exempt from mandatory reporting.

The Northern Territory and South Australia have introduced mandatory reporting laws to which clergy are subject, and Western Australia and Tasmania have committed to doing so.

Mr Andrews, a practising Catholic, announced the policy in November, during the 2018 state election campaign.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/laws-forcing-priests-to-repo...

Paul Karp, "Religious discrimination bill could legalise race hate speech, Law Council warns

The expression of religious beliefs that offend, insult or humiliate people based on their race could be effectively legalised by the Coalition’s religious discrimination bill, the Law Council of Australia has warned.

On Wednesday the Law Council president Arthur Moses noted that the bill, released last week by attorney general Christian Porter, contains a “narrower” protection for racial discrimination than exists under current commonwealth law in the notorious section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

At the National Press Club, Moses warned against a “shifting sands” approach to protecting speech and labelled provisions intending to protect people in the position of rugby player Israel Folau a “mirage” because they can be overridden by commercial considerations.

The religious discrimination bill protects expression of religious speech in good faith by stating that such speech does not constitute discrimination under commonwealth, state or territory anti-discrimination law.

The provision does not protect statements that are “malicious, would harass, vilify or incite hatred or violence against a person or group or which advocate for the commission of a serious criminal offence”.

Moses noted the bill “doesn’t carry the same type of protection as section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in relation to offensive behaviour”. Section 18C prohibits speech that “offends, insults or humiliates” a person based on their race.

“The exclusion provision – in terms of being able to say what you want based on religious belief – is narrower in relation to what will fall foul of the legislation and not be protected by the provisions of the Act,” he said.

“We are troubled by the shifting sands approach when it comes to religion, as opposed to race, and I don’t think the government has thought through consistency in this legislation because it’s a bad idea when you’re adopting a shifting sands approach.”

Moses noted the effect was that section 18C protections do not apply to religious beliefs unless they are likely to harass or vilify a person based on race.

“The concept of offend and insult in section 18C is not to be found in this legislation – so the test is much more difficult to establish in relation to provisions of the religious freedom bill than what is currently contained in the Racial Discrimination Act,” he said.

“This is an area where we have said you need to be very careful because some comments that are made do have an impact on the most vulnerable members of our community.”

In 2017 the Turnbull government attempted to replace the words “offend, insult or humiliate” in section 18C with the term “harass” – which would have eroded the current protections against hate speech substantially.

Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and the Tasmanian independent Jacquie Lambie combined to defeat the reform in the Senate.

LGBTI advocates who oppose the religious freedom bill – particularly because it overrides similar “offend, insult and humiliate” provisions in Tasmanian law – have warned it would license offensive views about women, racial minorities and disabled people in the name of religion.

Moses noted the bill still allowed employers to adopt a conduct rule that indirectly discriminates based on religion and prohibits religious speech, if they would otherwise suffer “unjustifiable financial hardship”.

“That’s an interesting concept … there is a mirage of freedom of speech but it’s confined by the employer’s bottom line,” he said. “I think that’s silly, with all due respect.”

Moses noted its interpretation would depend on “who complains the most” and what evidence of hardship could be produced.

He said religious expression was not defined in the bill, accusing the government of “legislation done on the run” to deal with the case of Israel Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia for social media posts stating that he believes homosexuals, among others, are going to hell.

Moses also noted that the bill could also expressly protect medical practitioners who refused to perform abortions on the grounds of conscience.

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/sep/04/religious-discrimination-bil...

Discrimination bill saves the religious lobby from themselves

Some religious leaders are so unhappy with Attorney-General Christian Porter’s new laws tackling religious discrimination they boycotted his unveiling of the draft bill last week. The faith lobby is cut about Australia’s chief lawmaker rejecting their demands for the hotly-awaited bill to express a “positive right” to “religious freedom” so that cake-sellers can stay sweet with the man upstairs by refusing to bake for same-sex weddings, which is an admittedly over-used and arguably facetious example, but at least you get the drift.

Porter’s bill simply protects people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs, in the same way we’re protected from discrimination around gender, race, age and disability.

But I detect a fig leaf in the shape of a torah scroll. For while Prime Minister Scott Morrison makes a virtue of his Pentecostalism, and the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage are conservative Christians, and Israel Folau is an outspoken Christian and not an outspoken anything else, the official Coalition line is that religious freedom laws are a necessary and belated recognition of Australian multiculturalism.

Morrison said in December: “If you support a multicultural Australia, you'll be a supporter of religious freedoms. You'll understand that religious faith is synonymous with so many different ethnic cultures in Australia.”

Still, a Jewish house of worship strikes me as an odd place for the bill’s launch. Not quite illustrative of the broader multiculturalism message. After Christians, who account for 52 per cent of Australians, the most common religion is Islam at 2.6 per cent - Judaism is way, way lower at only .04 per cent and falling. So wouldn’t the more appropriate, more representative, venue have been Lakemba Mosque? But that’s still not quite accurate. The biggest and fastest-growing non-Christian group in our increasingly multicultural society, the preferred faith of 30 per cent of people, is “no religion”. Porter said the bill outlaws discrimination on the basis of religious belief “or lack thereof”. So given non-believers are also in this tent why not launch the bill at the headquarters of The Rationalist Society?

In any case, it’s reassuring the government will protect the rights of “lackers thereof". Because, say someone in their private capacity posts a tweet about an already privileged sector strong-arming the secular state for even more privileges to compensate for the diminishing pull of their “superstitious beliefs” - just quoting from The Rationalist Society’s website - and they get sacked a la Folau for damaging their employer’s brand, it’s good to know redress might be possible.

The religious complain of being pushed from the public square. They make a spectacle of their martyrdom. Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli said he’d rather go to prison than break the confessional seal around child sex abuse. But Victoria’s new laws, besides responding to the recommendations of the child sex abuse royal commission, simply extend to clergy the same long-standing disclosure obligations that apply to doctors and psychologists. Like priests, such professionals must also be scrupulous about confidentiality - forcing them to break that relationship of trust is no less a big deal. But we’ve decided doctor-patient privilege should yield when a child is being raped.

The real scandal is that clergy have enjoyed an exemption for as long as they have by seeking cover under the aura of the supernatural.

To be fair, it at least makes sense that we hear from the archbishop because the confession law directly impacts on his church.

This is in contrast to the debate on the NSW abortion law. Yes these changes directly impact on doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion who are required to refer women to another doctor. So I understand why we’re hearing from religious leaders on that issue, even if I’m disturbed that a doctor’s religious moralising gets equal weight with the woman’s urgent and horrible predicament.

Now, I suffer from the earthly affliction of insomnia, so perhaps my brain is so foggy I’m missing something obvious, but why do religious leaders have standing in the broader abortion debate? Why are they interviewed on the radio about the reforms as a whole?

If a woman of faith has an unwanted pregnancy she will likely seek advice from her clergy. If she doesn’t, or doesn’t follow their advice, that’s a failure of pastoral care on the clergy’s part. As for what faithless women do, how’s that the province of religious leaders?

Just this: now, as in the past, they assume the right to impose their faith on others. Far from being denied a “voice” in the public square, they have a megaphone. What irks them is that fewer of us are listening.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/discrimination-bill-saves-the-religio...

Religious discrimination bill attacked as 'extraordinary foray in the culture wars'

The former Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner, Robin Banks, has branded the religious discrimination bill “an extraordinary foray in the culture wars” which would license offensive views about women, racial minorities and disabled people.

Banks has joined LGBT advocates and the Greens who have denounced the bill because it overrides federal and state laws by determining that religious speech in good faith cannot amount to unlawful discrimination.

While Labor has so far held fire on the substance of the bill – complaining of insufficient consultation – the Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick has questioned whether it addresses a real problem.

Religious groups and Coalition conservatives mostly welcomed the laws, but some signalled a desire for further institutional exemptions to federal discrimination laws – the subject of a separate Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry – or a positive right to freedom of religion, which the attorney general, Christian Porter, has already ruled out.

What is the religious discrimination bill and what will it do?

The draft bill overrides all state laws to protect religious speech provided it is not malicious and does not “harass, vilify or incite hatred” and expressly overrides Tasmania’s laws, which prevent speech that offends, insults or humiliates people based on protected characteristics.

Anna Brown, the chief executive of Equality Australia, said the bill “presents a risk to LGBTIQ people, women and other vulnerable groups by overriding every other anti-discrimination law in the country”.

Banks said it was “entirely incoherent in a diverse, pluralistic society that religious speech is protected where other speech isn’t”.

Banks said Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali’s comparison of women to “uncovered meat”, religious views that disability was “the product of sin” or that a particular ethnic group was inferior would all gain “a special cloak of protection” under the proposed law.

In 2017 the Tasmanian government attempted to exempt religious speech from the prohibition on offending, insulting or humiliating language, but the bid failed after opposition from disability advocates and women’s groups.

Jenny Dixon, the manager of Speak Out Advocacy, said her organisation fought that plan because it feared the change “sends a message to the community that denigration of people with disability is acceptable”.

On the new bill, Dixon said: “Anything that waters down protective legislation should be viewed with concern. It potentially deprives people of an avenue to bring issues to Equal Opportunity Tasmania.”

Banks said: “People think it’s just words but I’ve dealt with people who are emotionally scarred by words, who could now be marginalised at their work, at their school or university”.

“Religious speech is so privileged it will allow people to engage in racist, ableist, sexist anti-LGBTI speech.”

The Human Rights Law Centre’s chief executive, Hugh de Kretser, agreed that the bill “introduces unjustified carve-outs for people to express discriminatory views and to override state and territory protections which ensure fair treatment, particularly for women accessing abortion services”.

The centre is concerned the bill overrides state rules that require doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer patients to another health service.

One of its senior lawyers, Adrianne Walters, said the bill “undermines women’s reproductive health” by allowing doctors to “abandon their patients” in jurisdictions such as South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.

“The bill unjustifiably prioritises a doctor’s personal religious beliefs over the right of women to access the healthcare they need.”

“The bill makes it even more important for the NSW abortion bill to have strong referral provisions.”

A constitutional law expert, Luke Beck, said the bill protected the speech of atheists “only on topics of religion” but protected all religious beliefs “on any subject whatsoever”, granting a “bigger sword” to them.

On Friday Patrick told ABC’s AM he had not seen the bill but would “almost certainly” seek to refer it to a Senate inquiry.

“Our current position is that we are not sure that there is a problem, only the perception of a problem, so we first have to be convinced that indeed there is a controversy to be solved by a new law,” he said.

Nationals MP George Christensen said the new law would “protect Australians who express their religious beliefs from being subject to state-based anti-free speech discrimination laws and from being hauled before kangaroo court anti-discrimination tribunals”.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly said the new law would enshrine a “commonsense” approach and congratulated Porter for opening the process for further consultation.

Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells was more critical, telling Radio National the bills were “likely to fall far short” of addressing religious institutions’ concerns.

“The bill deals with discrimination on the basis of religious belief only in key areas of public life,” she said. “It does not create a positive right to freedom of religion which is what religious leaders, experts and stakeholders have been calling for.”

Labor senator Deborah O’Neill accused the government of inviting religious leaders to a “photo opportunity” on Thursday when the laws were released, but failing to conduct proper consultation, which is set to last just five weeks.

“As a Labor politician of faith, committed to family, they’re telling me they’re disgusted there isn’t a bipartisan effort to discuss the substance of this bill before it was released,” she said.

“The lack of consultation has led to the release of a draft that is not meeting expectations.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/30/religious-discrimination-b...

Religious discrimination bill: Coalition accused of creating a 'Trojan horse for hate'

LBTQI advocates have condemned the government’s proposed religious discrimination bill, saying the “radical” new laws would give people of religion superior rights that would allow them to discriminate.

While the Greens have criticised the government’s proposed bill, Labor’s shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, said it was too early to say whether the opposition would offer bipartisan support for the legislation.

“Unlike the government, which has only been having an internal debate, Labor will be listening carefully to the whole Australian community, Labor will be consulting deeply and widely, which is what the government should be doing too,” Dreyfus said.

The attorney general, Christian Porter, will begin consultations on the new religious discrimination bill next week after releasing a draft on Thursday that outlined the new provisions to protect people of faith from “unfair” treatment.

The draft legislation includes provisions preventing employers from limiting the religious expression of workers in their private capacity and will explicitly override a Tasmanian anti-discrimination law.

Equality Australia said the act enshrined “religious exceptionalism” by giving new privileges to people of faith, while overriding existing protections from discrimination for others.

“These new, radical provisions go too far and hand a sword to people of faith to use their religious beliefs to attack others in our community,” chief executive Anna Brown said.

Brown criticised the federal government’s decision to override Tasmania’s anti-discrimination act, which prohibits conduct which “offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules” other members of our community.

“We must not go backwards or remove any protections from harmful behaviour which have already been achieved – at great cost.”

Equality Tasmania spokesman Rodney Croome said that Canberra was “directly interfering to weaken a Tasmanian human rights law that protects vulnerable people”.

“A significant proportion of complaints under this section are from people with disability, so Canberra is directly weakening protections for them, as well as for women, LGBTI people and anyone else who falls foul of traditional religious doctrines,” Croome said.

“We call on Mr Porter to stick to the promise he made not to interfere with state law, and remove this section, and we call on Anthony Albanese and Richard Di Natale to commit to voting against this provision.”

The Greens warned the bill could be a “Trojan horse for hate”.

“The far-right of Morrison’s party are still trying to get their way, chipping away at the rights of LGBTIQ+ people and other minorities,” Greens senator Janet Rice said. “Any bill that comes to the parliament must ensure all Australians are treated equally.”

Religious groups have been broadly supportive of the legislation.

Michael Kellahan of Christian legal thinktank Freedom for Faith said he hoped Labor would support the bill, which he welcomed as a positive first step.

“It shouldn’t be contentious that we agree that there is such a thing as a need for protection of religious freedom,” Kellahan said.

He also urged the debate not to forget the daily discrimination being experienced by people of faith, particularly among the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Releasing the long-awaited legislation following a speech at the Great Synagogue in Sydney on Thursday, the attorney general, Christian Porter, said the new laws would ensure religious people were protected in what was a “necessary and difficult balancing exercise”.

The exposure draft includes explicit protections for people to express their religious beliefs in a private capacity unless an employer can prove it is a “reasonable” limitation, in a move aimed at addressing the circumstances that saw high-profile rugby player Israel Folau sacked earlier this year.

As revealed by Guardian Australia, the bill includes clauses relating to indirect discrimination, which is where “an apparently neutral condition has the effect of disadvantaging people of a particular religious belief or who engage in a particular religious activity”.

This imposes additional requirements on large businesses with a turnover of more than $50m to not put in place standards or conditions that limit religious expression in a person’s “private capacity”, unless the business can prove it would cause “unjustifiable financial hardship to the business”.

If the business is unable to demonstrate that the condition is necessary to avoid unjustifiable financial hardship, the condition is not reasonable, and is therefore discriminatory, according to the new law.

Porter said this would provide an “extra protection” for an employee faced with the same circumstances as Folau’s.

Protected religious activity is not defined in the bill but the explanatory note states that “expression of a religious belief” may be included.

“For example, evangelising may constitute a religious activity where adherents of that religious group are required, or encouraged, to evangelise,” it said.

In July, Porter claimed the bill was “not intended to displace state law”, responding to concerns from LGBT advocates warning it could undermine state protections against vilification.

The bill, released on Thursday, explicitly overrides Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits statements which “offend, insult or humiliate” based on protected grounds including gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability and relationship status.

Provided a person is expressing a genuinely held religious belief in good faith, that Tasmanian provision will not apply – breaching Porter’s commitment in a bid to pacify Coalition conservatives who demanded the law prevent a repeat of the Porteous case, in which the Catholic archbishop of Hobart was sued over anti same-sex marriage leaflets.

The explanatory memorandum claims the Tasmanian law needs to be overridden “given its broad scope and demonstrated ability to affect freedom of religious expression”.

However, religious beliefs will not be protected if their expression is malicious, would harass, vilify or incite hatred against a group or advocate for the commission of a serious criminal offence.

Ahead of releasing the bill, Porter said that religious Australians were not immune from “violence or vilification”.

“The government has endeavoured to carefully understand what are the actual problems and reasonably held concerns that are manifest for individual Australians who rightfully wish to express their faith,” Porter said.

But he said the government had rejected calls from some for positive rights to be enshrined in the new act, saying the legislation was best described as a “shield” approach.

“Rights positively expressed are powerful swords, but they are always dual-edged swords,” he said.

The attorney general said the protection from discrimination in the bill would extend from education to employment and the provision of commonwealth programs and services.

“Just because a protective shield is simple does not mean that it is unimportant,” Porter said. “Equally, that a protection is simple need not mean that it is controversial.”

Porter said the legislation would now be subject to further consultation with a wide range of interested parties before settling on a final bill.

It is expected they will be introduced in October and considered by both the House and Senate before the end of the calendar year, allowing time for a Senate inquiry.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/29/religious-discrim...

What are the new religious discrimination laws about?

The Morrison government has released a draft religious discrimination bill, which promises to be one of its key policy moves for the second half of 2019.

It follows controversy over Rugby Australia's recent sacking of player Israel Folau for posting a message on social media declaring that "Hell awaits" homosexuals, among other people, because they are "living in sin". Rugby Australia argued this breached its guidelines on player behaviour.

What does Folau have to do with the debate in Canberra? Why are we hearing about religious freedom now? And why is the subject so contentious?
What is in the religious discrimination bill?

The draft bill, released by Attorney-General Christian Porter, makes it unlawful to discriminate against Australians on the basis of their religion. This includes both direct and indirect discrimination.

For example, it would be direct discrimination for a company to refuse to hire a Buddhist person because of their faith. It might be indirect discrimination for a company to require employees to come to a meeting on a Friday afternoon, which could disadvantage Jewish people who leave early on Fridays to observe the Sabbath.

The bill protects against discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity in the multiple key areas of public life, including: employment, education, access to premises, goods, services and facilities, sport and clubs. It also sets up a new Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The government has promoted the bill as an "orthodox" piece of legislation that simply completes Australia's anti-discrimination "architecture". That is, it will go alongside existing anti-discrimination acts for race, sex, disability and age. The bill does not create a "positive right" to freedom of religion, which some church leaders have been calling for.

What are the new religious discrimination laws about?

The Morrison government has released a draft religious discrimination bill, which promises to be one of its key policy moves for the second half of 2019.

It follows controversy over Rugby Australia's recent sacking of player Israel Folau for posting a message on social media declaring that "Hell awaits" homosexuals, among other people, because they are "living in sin". Rugby Australia argued this breached its guidelines on player behaviour.

What does Folau have to do with the debate in Canberra? Why are we hearing about religious freedom now? And why is the subject so contentious?

What is in the religious discrimination bill?

The draft bill, released by Attorney-General Christian Porter, makes it unlawful to discriminate against Australians on the basis of their religion. This includes both direct and indirect discrimination.

For example, it would be direct discrimination for a company to refuse to hire a Buddhist person because of their faith. It might be indirect discrimination for a company to require employees to come to a meeting on a Friday afternoon, which could disadvantage Jewish people who leave early on Fridays to observe the Sabbath.

The bill protects against discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity in the multiple key areas of public life, including: employment, education, access to premises, goods, services and facilities, sport and clubs. It also sets up a new Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The government has promoted the bill as an "orthodox" piece of legislation that simply completes Australia's anti-discrimination "architecture". That is, it will go alongside existing anti-discrimination acts for race, sex, disability and age. The bill does not create a "positive right" to freedom of religion, which some church leaders have been calling for.

How does it address the Folau situation?

The draft bill would impose additional requirements on businesses with a revenue of at least $50 million a year when it comes to standards of dress, appearance or behaviour that limit religious expression. If a business imposes a restriction, it must prove this is necessary to "avoid unjustifiable financial hardship on the business".

Under the draft bill, Porter explained that Rugby Australia would have to prove its social media rules – and subsequent sacking of Folau – were in order to protect its brand, noting that Folau would "likely argue the opposite".

Mr Porter noted that while he could not say how a case like Folau's would ultimately end up, there was "no doubt" the rugby player would argue the condition that he could not express his religious beliefs outside of work was "unreasonable".

What else would the bill potentially allow or not allow?

The draft bill says "religious bodies" are not discriminating against a person by engaging, in good faith, in conduct that would be regarded as in accordance with its doctrines or beliefs. For example, religious schools would have discretion to employ staff of a particular faith. Health practitioners would also be able to conscientiously object to providing a health service –such as abortion – on the basis of their religious belief.

On the other hand, the bill would allow employers not to hire someone because they could not abide by workplace health and safety requirements due to their religious dress.

In its current form, the bill does not count charities that engage primarily in commercial activities, such as hospitals or aged care homes, as a "religious body". Porter said he would consult with church-run hospitals and aged care providers to understand any concerns they may have here.

How did the religious discrimination bill come about?

While the Folau case has generated significant controversy this year, the religious discrimination bill has a longer history.

The new laws have their origins in the 2017 same-sex marriage debate. Back then, some politicians, religious leaders and commentators raised concerns that allowing same-sex marriage would restrict people's ability to practise their religion. One scenario raised was whether churches would be compelled to lease facilities for same-sex weddings, for instance, or whether schools could still teach the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and woman.

In response to these concerns, then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull tasked former Liberal MP Philip Ruddock with conducting a review of religious freedom in Australia. This allowed Parliament to get on and make same-sex marriage law by the end of 2017, but did not entirely dismiss the concerns of religious groups in doing so.

Ruddock's 140-page report came out in December, finding that religious freedom was not in "imminent peril" but that the protection of belief or faith required "constant vigilance". Among its many recommendations, Ruddock's review said there should be a religious discrimination act (and the government duly agreed).

What will happen to the bill now?

Porter has already been consulting with church groups and Coalition MPs and cabinet have looked at the draft. The Attorney-General says he will keep consulting community groups and MPs and expects to introduce the bill to Parliament in October. From here, expect a Senate inquiry and a vote before Christmas.
What does Labor say about the bill?

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has previously said, "I am certainly of the view that people should have the right to practise their faith and people's faith should be respected." But expect a range of views from within the caucus. Some Labor MPs are worried about swings against the party in seats with high levels of religious affiliation at the recent federal election.

On Thursday, shortly after the bill was released, shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus urged the government to allow for "proper time" to consider the proposed laws.

What do other stakeholders say about the bill?

Conservative Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells wants a religious freedom act that would not only protect people against discrimination but give "general protections for religious believers". This position has been echoed by some Christian and Jewish leaders who want a "positive right" to religious freedom.

Meanwhile, LGBTIQ+ advocates have quickly condemned the draft bill. Equality Australia is concerned it will override existing state anti-discrimination laws (which will weaken protections for LGBTIQ+ people). It is also concerned about the "Folau" provision regarding large employers, arguing it will stop employers upholding non-discriminatory policies about LGBTIQ+ people.

The Institute of Public Affairs is also opposed to new requirements for large businesses, arguing: "The reversal of the onus of proof is an unconscionable incursion on individual legal rights and should be removed from the draft bill."

Meanwhile, the Law Council of Australia says the "best way" to protect human rights in Australia is through a legislated Charter of Rights, "which would allow competing interests to be balanced".

What other government policies are planned on religion?

Alongside the religious discrimination bill, Mr Porter also released another draft bill to pick up on other recommendations from the Ruddock review. This includes the right of charities to advocate for the traditional definition of man-woman marriage and still keep their charity status and the right of religious schools to refuse to hire out their school halls and other facilities for same-sex weddings.

What do other stakeholders say about the bill?

Conservative Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells wants a religious freedom act that would not only protect people against discrimination but give "general protections for religious believers". This position has been echoed by some Christian and Jewish leaders who want a "positive right" to religious freedom.

Meanwhile, LGBTIQ+ advocates have quickly condemned the draft bill. Equality Australia is concerned it will override existing state anti-discrimination laws (which will weaken protections for LGBTIQ+ people). It is also concerned about the "Folau" provision regarding large employers, arguing it will stop employers upholding non-discriminatory policies about LGBTIQ+ people.

The Institute of Public Affairs is also opposed to new requirements for large businesses, arguing: "The reversal of the onus of proof is an unconscionable incursion on individual legal rights and should be removed from the draft bill."

Meanwhile, the Law Council of Australia says the "best way" to protect human rights in Australia is through a legislated Charter of Rights, "which would allow competing interests to be balanced".

What other government policies are planned on religion?

Alongside the religious discrimination bill, Mr Porter also released another draft bill to pick up on other recommendations from the Ruddock review. This includes the right of charities to advocate for the traditional definition of man-woman marriage and still keep their charity status and the right of religious schools to refuse to hire out their school halls and other facilities for same-sex weddings.

There is also the unresolved issue of whether a religious school should continue to have the right to expel students or fire staff members because of their sexuality. Parliament had a contentious debate about this at the end of 2018 but was not able to agree. In April, just before the federal election, Porter asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to examine this issue. The ALRC was initially supposed to report back by April 2020, with a first discussion paper out in early September. But on Thursday, Porter updated the ALRC's terms of reference, pushing out the timelines to avoid overlap between the religious discrimination bill and the gay students and teachers issue. The ALRC will now report back in December 2020.
Who is religious and how free are we to practise religion compared to other nations?

About 60 per cent of Australians said they had some religious affiliation in 2016 census. Of these, Catholics made up the the biggest group (22.6 per cent), followed by Anglicans (13.3 per cent) and "other Christians" at 16.3 per cent. About 2.6 per cent of Australians were Muslim.

In a sign of Australia's declining levels of religious affiliation, the 2011 census found 22.3 per cent of Australians said they had "no religion" but by 2016, the number was up to 30 per cent.

The Pew Research Centre publishes an annual report on religious restrictions around the world. According to its July 2019 release, Australia was rated "low" in terms of government restrictions on religion. It was rated as "moderate" in terms of social hostilities involving religion.

A 2017 report by the Washington-based Cato Institute scored Australia 9.1 out of 10 for religious freedom. The United Kingdom scored 7.6, while the United States scored 8.9.
What religious protections do we already have?

Australia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states, "everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion".

And Australia's Constitution has some provisions about religion – section 116 says federal Parliament can't make laws establishing any religion, imposing any religious observance, or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.

According to the Human Rights Law Centre, a "patchwork" of anti-discrimination laws operate at state and federal levels. For example, Jewish people have some protections under the federal Racial Discrimination Act, while the federal Fair Work Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion (as above).

The Australian Human Rights Commission also has "limited power" to inquire into complaints of discrimination on the basis of religion in workplaces.

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/what-are-the-new-religious-di...

This is not a religious freedom bill, it's a licence to hate

If the Morrison government has its way, Australia’s anti-discrimination laws will take their greatest hit since they began to be enacted almost half a century ago. In that time, anti-discrimination and hate speech laws have made Australia a fairer and more inclusive society.

They have levelled the playing field and provided a fair go for people traditionally disadvantaged by prejudice and stigma. Our system of anti-discrimination protections is one of this nation’s greatest modern achievements.

Now, at the behest of religious leaders who feel their power and privilege slipping away, the federal government wants to punch holes in all these laws.

The bill released on Thursday by Attorney-General Christian Porter will roll back existing protections in a number of ways.

It prevents large companies from contributing to a culture of inclusion by amending the Fair Work Act to allow employees to publicly express whatever religious prejudice they feel like, short of harassment and incitement to violence. This is the government’s response to Israel Folau’s sacking by Rugby Australia.

But it goes further than Folau because it also allows employers to publicly voice whatever nasty religious opinion they have against an employee.

Hate speech seems to be a bugbear for this government because it wants to roll back existing protections across the board. It wants to amend the Commonwealth race, sex, age and disability discrimination acts to allow humiliating, intimidating and insulting language in the name of religion.

Let’s be clear here, this is not just about removing protections for LGBTI people; it is also about allowing abuse that is currently prohibited against racial minorities, old people and people with disability.

The same applies at a state level: the Porter bill explicitly overrides a provision of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, for example, that defends the state’s citizens against humiliating, intimidating and insulting language. Tasmania is selected for special treatment because its hate speech laws are the strongest and most comprehensive.

In 2017, the Tasmania Parliament upheld these laws, in no small part because the bulk of complaints under them are from people with disability.

The faith-leaders who failed to get Tasmanians to allow verbal abuse against vulnerable people in the name of religion are now looking to Canberra to do their dirty work.

The Porter bill reaches its tentacles into areas beyond hate speech. For example, in the area of health care the bill allows some doctors, nurses and other health practitioners to refuse to provide their services on the basis of their religious belief.

Most people will assume this applies to abortion or euthanasia, but it could also see paediatricians refusing to vaccinate the baby of a single mother or gynaecologists refusing to see married lesbian couples.

Each of these retrograde provisions is irksome, but what makes them particularly objectionable is that the Porter bill has such a wide definition of religious belief that it allows the voicing of any old prejudice and resentment.

Worse still, this new license to hate will be weaponised by the appointment of a Religious Freedom Commissioner.

The Ruddock Review into religious freedom found such a commissioner was not necessary because there was no real threat to religious freedom in Australia. However, to please its conservative religious base, the government will spend an estimated $1.5 million a year to send a Religious Freedom Commissioner out looking for trouble.

The Porter bill isn’t about religious freedom. It is about giving special legal privileges to prejudice.

It’s about importing the American culture war that seeks to take rights away from LGBTI people and many other minorities in the name of “religious freedom”.

It’s true that die-hard fans of this kind of “religious freedom” didn’t get what they most wanted from Porter – the entrenchment of an unlimited right to religious freedom into Australian law.

But they have got something almost as good – the legitimisation of their belief that expressing a religious view or holding a religious belief is more important than other people’s right to be free from hate and discrimination.

The bill will be welcomed by the minority of Australians who resent social progress, and who are fearful of same-sex marriages, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism or transgender teenagers.

But I believe most Australians value the fairness and inclusion that discrimination laws have brought us, and reject the American culture war that some Australian religious leaders want to bring to our shores.

I believe this not least because polls show about 65 per cent of Australians do not believe discrimination should be allowed in the name of religion.

It is now the job of anti-discrimination advocates to mobilise this majority in defence of the fundamental Australian value of a fair go for all.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/this-is-not-a-religious-freedom-bill-it-...

What are the new religious discrimination laws about?

The Morrison government has released a draft religious discrimination bill, which promises to be one of its key policy moves for the second half of 2019.

It follows controversy over Rugby Australia's recent sacking of player Israel Folau for posting a message on social media declaring that "Hell awaits" homosexuals, among other people, because they are "living in sin". Rugby Australia argued this breached its guidelines on player behaviour.

What does Folau have to do with the debate in Canberra? Why are we hearing about religious freedom now? And why is the subject so contentious?
What is in the religious discrimination bill?

The draft bill, released by Attorney-General Christian Porter, makes it unlawful to discriminate against Australians on the basis of their religion. This includes both direct and indirect discrimination.

For example, it would be direct discrimination for a company to refuse to hire a Buddhist person because of their faith. It might be indirect discrimination for a company to require employees to come to a meeting on a Friday afternoon, which could disadvantage Jewish people who leave early on Fridays to observe the Sabbath.

The bill protects against discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity in the multiple key areas of public life, including: employment, education, access to premises, goods, services and facilities, sport and clubs. It also sets up a new Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The government has promoted the bill as an "orthodox" piece of legislation that simply completes Australia's anti-discrimination "architecture". That is, it will go alongside existing anti-discrimination acts for race, sex, disability and age. The bill does not create a "positive right" to freedom of religion, which some church leaders have been calling for.

What are the new religious discrimination laws about?

The Morrison government has released a draft religious discrimination bill, which promises to be one of its key policy moves for the second half of 2019.

It follows controversy over Rugby Australia's recent sacking of player Israel Folau for posting a message on social media declaring that "Hell awaits" homosexuals, among other people, because they are "living in sin". Rugby Australia argued this breached its guidelines on player behaviour.

What does Folau have to do with the debate in Canberra? Why are we hearing about religious freedom now? And why is the subject so contentious?

What is in the religious discrimination bill?

The draft bill, released by Attorney-General Christian Porter, makes it unlawful to discriminate against Australians on the basis of their religion. This includes both direct and indirect discrimination.

For example, it would be direct discrimination for a company to refuse to hire a Buddhist person because of their faith. It might be indirect discrimination for a company to require employees to come to a meeting on a Friday afternoon, which could disadvantage Jewish people who leave early on Fridays to observe the Sabbath.

The bill protects against discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity in the multiple key areas of public life, including: employment, education, access to premises, goods, services and facilities, sport and clubs. It also sets up a new Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The government has promoted the bill as an "orthodox" piece of legislation that simply completes Australia's anti-discrimination "architecture". That is, it will go alongside existing anti-discrimination acts for race, sex, disability and age. The bill does not create a "positive right" to freedom of religion, which some church leaders have been calling for.

How does it address the Folau situation?

The draft bill would impose additional requirements on businesses with a revenue of at least $50 million a year when it comes to standards of dress, appearance or behaviour that limit religious expression. If a business imposes a restriction, it must prove this is necessary to "avoid unjustifiable financial hardship on the business".

Under the draft bill, Porter explained that Rugby Australia would have to prove its social media rules – and subsequent sacking of Folau – were in order to protect its brand, noting that Folau would "likely argue the opposite".

Mr Porter noted that while he could not say how a case like Folau's would ultimately end up, there was "no doubt" the rugby player would argue the condition that he could not express his religious beliefs outside of work was "unreasonable".

What else would the bill potentially allow or not allow?

The draft bill says "religious bodies" are not discriminating against a person by engaging, in good faith, in conduct that would be regarded as in accordance with its doctrines or beliefs. For example, religious schools would have discretion to employ staff of a particular faith. Health practitioners would also be able to conscientiously object to providing a health service –such as abortion – on the basis of their religious belief.

On the other hand, the bill would allow employers not to hire someone because they could not abide by workplace health and safety requirements due to their religious dress.

In its current form, the bill does not count charities that engage primarily in commercial activities, such as hospitals or aged care homes, as a "religious body". Porter said he would consult with church-run hospitals and aged care providers to understand any concerns they may have here.

How did the religious discrimination bill come about?

While the Folau case has generated significant controversy this year, the religious discrimination bill has a longer history.

The new laws have their origins in the 2017 same-sex marriage debate. Back then, some politicians, religious leaders and commentators raised concerns that allowing same-sex marriage would restrict people's ability to practise their religion. One scenario raised was whether churches would be compelled to lease facilities for same-sex weddings, for instance, or whether schools could still teach the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and woman.

In response to these concerns, then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull tasked former Liberal MP Philip Ruddock with conducting a review of religious freedom in Australia. This allowed Parliament to get on and make same-sex marriage law by the end of 2017, but did not entirely dismiss the concerns of religious groups in doing so.

Ruddock's 140-page report came out in December, finding that religious freedom was not in "imminent peril" but that the protection of belief or faith required "constant vigilance". Among its many recommendations, Ruddock's review said there should be a religious discrimination act (and the government duly agreed).

What will happen to the bill now?

Porter has already been consulting with church groups and Coalition MPs and cabinet have looked at the draft. The Attorney-General says he will keep consulting community groups and MPs and expects to introduce the bill to Parliament in October. From here, expect a Senate inquiry and a vote before Christmas.
What does Labor say about the bill?

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has previously said, "I am certainly of the view that people should have the right to practise their faith and people's faith should be respected." But expect a range of views from within the caucus. Some Labor MPs are worried about swings against the party in seats with high levels of religious affiliation at the recent federal election.

On Thursday, shortly after the bill was released, shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus urged the government to allow for "proper time" to consider the proposed laws.

What do other stakeholders say about the bill?

Conservative Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells wants a religious freedom act that would not only protect people against discrimination but give "general protections for religious believers". This position has been echoed by some Christian and Jewish leaders who want a "positive right" to religious freedom.

Meanwhile, LGBTIQ+ advocates have quickly condemned the draft bill. Equality Australia is concerned it will override existing state anti-discrimination laws (which will weaken protections for LGBTIQ+ people). It is also concerned about the "Folau" provision regarding large employers, arguing it will stop employers upholding non-discriminatory policies about LGBTIQ+ people.

The Institute of Public Affairs is also opposed to new requirements for large businesses, arguing: "The reversal of the onus of proof is an unconscionable incursion on individual legal rights and should be removed from the draft bill."

Meanwhile, the Law Council of Australia says the "best way" to protect human rights in Australia is through a legislated Charter of Rights, "which would allow competing interests to be balanced".

What other government policies are planned on religion?

Alongside the religious discrimination bill, Mr Porter also released another draft bill to pick up on other recommendations from the Ruddock review. This includes the right of charities to advocate for the traditional definition of man-woman marriage and still keep their charity status and the right of religious schools to refuse to hire out their school halls and other facilities for same-sex weddings.

What do other stakeholders say about the bill?

Conservative Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells wants a religious freedom act that would not only protect people against discrimination but give "general protections for religious believers". This position has been echoed by some Christian and Jewish leaders who want a "positive right" to religious freedom.

Meanwhile, LGBTIQ+ advocates have quickly condemned the draft bill. Equality Australia is concerned it will override existing state anti-discrimination laws (which will weaken protections for LGBTIQ+ people). It is also concerned about the "Folau" provision regarding large employers, arguing it will stop employers upholding non-discriminatory policies about LGBTIQ+ people.

The Institute of Public Affairs is also opposed to new requirements for large businesses, arguing: "The reversal of the onus of proof is an unconscionable incursion on individual legal rights and should be removed from the draft bill."

Meanwhile, the Law Council of Australia says the "best way" to protect human rights in Australia is through a legislated Charter of Rights, "which would allow competing interests to be balanced".

What other government policies are planned on religion?

Alongside the religious discrimination bill, Mr Porter also released another draft bill to pick up on other recommendations from the Ruddock review. This includes the right of charities to advocate for the traditional definition of man-woman marriage and still keep their charity status and the right of religious schools to refuse to hire out their school halls and other facilities for same-sex weddings.

There is also the unresolved issue of whether a religious school should continue to have the right to expel students or fire staff members because of their sexuality. Parliament had a contentious debate about this at the end of 2018 but was not able to agree. In April, just before the federal election, Porter asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to examine this issue. The ALRC was initially supposed to report back by April 2020, with a first discussion paper out in early September. But on Thursday, Porter updated the ALRC's terms of reference, pushing out the timelines to avoid overlap between the religious discrimination bill and the gay students and teachers issue. The ALRC will now report back in December 2020.
Who is religious and how free are we to practise religion compared to other nations?

About 60 per cent of Australians said they had some religious affiliation in 2016 census. Of these, Catholics made up the the biggest group (22.6 per cent), followed by Anglicans (13.3 per cent) and "other Christians" at 16.3 per cent. About 2.6 per cent of Australians were Muslim.

In a sign of Australia's declining levels of religious affiliation, the 2011 census found 22.3 per cent of Australians said they had "no religion" but by 2016, the number was up to 30 per cent.

The Pew Research Centre publishes an annual report on religious restrictions around the world. According to its July 2019 release, Australia was rated "low" in terms of government restrictions on religion. It was rated as "moderate" in terms of social hostilities involving religion.

A 2017 report by the Washington-based Cato Institute scored Australia 9.1 out of 10 for religious freedom. The United Kingdom scored 7.6, while the United States scored 8.9.
What religious protections do we already have?

Australia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states, "everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion".

And Australia's Constitution has some provisions about religion – section 116 says federal Parliament can't make laws establishing any religion, imposing any religious observance, or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.

According to the Human Rights Law Centre, a "patchwork" of anti-discrimination laws operate at state and federal levels. For example, Jewish people have some protections under the federal Racial Discrimination Act, while the federal Fair Work Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion (as above).

The Australian Human Rights Commission also has "limited power" to inquire into complaints of discrimination on the basis of religion in workplaces.

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/what-are-the-new-religious-di...

Coalition agrees to pass laws forcing priests to report child abuse

Coalition agrees to pass laws forcing priests to report child abuse

New legislation forcing priests to report child abuse to authorities even if disclosed in confession now has enough support to pass through both houses of Victorian Parliament.

The Andrews government introduced the legislation earlier this month compelling priests to break the seal of confession to report disclosures of child abuse, but the Coalition stopped short of supporting it at the time.

However, on Monday Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien revealed he would back the bill.

“The safety of kids has to come first and we’ll be supporting legislation that does that,” he said.

Mr O’Brien stoked controversy earlier this month when he said the Coalition would need to see the bill to ensure it did not “infringe on other religious freedoms”.

But he said the shadow cabinet had met and agreed to support the proposed changes.

“We’ve read the bill. We understand it. We’ve consulted. We’ll be backing it.”

The government needs three votes to pass legislation in the Victorian Parliament’s upper house.

Coalition backbencher and staunch conservative MP Bernie Finn has described the new rules as “virtue signalling”.

The changes will bring religious leaders into line with police, teachers, doctors, nurses, school counsellors and youth justice workers who are required to report child abuse to authorities.

Premier Daniel Andrews attacked Mr O’Brien earlier this month when he refused to give his full support.

"No religion, no church, no person, no priest, no politician is free to do anything other than put the safety of our kids first," Mr Andrews said at the time.

The Catholic Church leadership has spoken out vehemently against the looming changes with Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli insisting he was prepared to go to jail rather than break the seal of confession.

Religious leaders face three years in jail if they refuse to comply with the planned laws.

The Coalition took a similar policy to the 2018 election.

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/coalition-agrees-to-pass-law...

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