We, the undersigned LGBTIQ+ advocates, organisations and allies, place on the public record our support for protections from discrimination for people of all faiths, and for people who don’t hold religious beliefs, provided these laws do not sanction new forms of discrimination against others.
As members of LGBTIQ+ communities, we have seen and experienced firsthand the immense harm discrimination causes. Discrimination has a devastating impact on physical and mental health, and an individual’s sense of acceptance and belonging.
We strongly believe that no one should be treated as ‘less than’ because of who you are or what you believe.
For more than forty years, we have advocated for the removal of discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. We have stood in solidarity with women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and many others in their fight for equal treatment under the law.
So too we stand with all people of faith in their fight against discrimination because of their religious beliefs, including discrimination against people because they don’t hold religious beliefs. We recognise and acknowledge the many LGBTIQ+ people of faith, and the positive steps taken by many faith groups and schools to model genuine inclusion, showing how the rights of all can be integrated harmoniously.
We call on the Australian Parliament to introduce laws that appropriately strengthen that shield of protection for people facing discrimination because of their religious beliefs or because they don’t hold religious beliefs.
Equally, we caution the Australian Parliament against laws that would give some people within society a ‘sword’ to use their beliefs to harm others by cutting through existing anti-discrimination protections.
We will oppose any new laws which would give religious groups a license to discriminate against others in a way that would sanction mistreatment or wind back the clock on equality.
And we will continue to call for the removal of existing laws which allow religious schools to exclude and discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers across the country, and from critical government funded services.
Australia has long prided itself as being the land of the fair go. Australians have consistently demonstrated that they value equality before the law – as shown by the overwhelming majority who voted YES during the marriage equality postal survey, including people of faith.
Australia is well on the path towards becoming a more equal place, and we support fair and balanced protections from discrimination for all people which move us forward on this journey.
- ACT LGBTIQ Ministerial Advisory Council
- Activate Church
- AIDS Action Council
- AIS Support Group Australia
- Aleph Melbourne
- Amnesty International Australia
- Australian Catholics for Equality
- Australian Council of Social Services
- Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
- Australian Marriage Equality
- Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland
- Bisexual Community Perth
- Curtin University Centre for Human Rights Education
- Democracy in Colour
- Equal Voices
- Equality Australia
- Equality Gilmore
- Equality Tasmania
- Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW
- GLBTI Rights in Ageing
- Goulburn Valley Pride
- Human Rights Law Centre
- Intersex Human Rights Australia
- Just Equal
- LGBTI Legal Service
- Minus 18
- National LGBTI Health Alliance
- Parents of Gender Diverse Children
- PFLAG Tasmania
- Public Interest Advocacy Centre
- Queensland AIDS Council
- Queer Society
- Rainbow Families NSW
- Rainbow Families Victoria
- Rainbow Territory
- Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church of Western Australia
- South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance
- The Equality Project
- Thorne Harbour Health
- Trans Folk of WA
- Trans Health Australia
- Transcend Support
- Transgender Victoria
- Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network
- Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby
- Welcoming Australia
- Zoe Belle Gender Collective
UPDATE from Equality Australia – July 19 2019:
This week, we released a joint statement, signed by more than 50 organisations representing LGBTIQ+ people, people of faith, people of colour, women and our allies.
We understand that some religious organisations have targeted and discriminated against LGBTIQ+ people, and this continues today. They have done this largely with impunity and legal exemptions from some anti-discrimination laws. We utterly condemn this behaviour and will continue to advocate for fairer, stronger protections against discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people.
We do not know exactly what will be in the Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Act. We have a fair sense of what might be included, and where religious lobby groups want the laws to go further. And we have been calling for the details of the bill to be released to prevent confusion and fear about what it might contain.
But we can state what we want – fair protections from harmful discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people and people of faith, as well as freedom from religion.
We stand firm with people of colour and people of faith in their need for fair and affirming protections from discrimination. There can be no doubt that people from religious minorities and people of colour are under attack in Australia – white supremacy is one of the most violent and prevalent threats faced by these communities, and we will stand with them in their fight against persecution.
We know that most Australians believe in fairness. At the same time, there is a vocal but dangerous minority which seeks to attack others under the guise of religion – including increasing targeting of trans and gender diverse communities.
Our opponents have no scruples in trying to divide LGBTIQ+ communities from people of colour and faith communities. When we buy into the their tactic that this is about Christians versus LGBTIQ+ people, we lose. We ignore the LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and pretend they don’t exist. We accept that the ACL and other minority views speak for ‘all’ Christian people, which we know to be false.
These debates are scary for all of us. We understand that. Especially for those of us who were raised in unsupportive faith communities, and understand how some people of faith view LGBTIQ+ people like us.
But buying into the ACL’s frame means we are fighting on their terms, the one they’re trying to win in the LNP party room.
We are stronger when we stand with our allies – with affirming people of faith who welcome LGBTIQ+ people into their congregations, with people of colour who marched alongside us for marriage equality, with women who are also being targeted for ‘religious exemptions’ around access to reproductive healthcare.
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from affirming faith groups and multicultural organisations about their experiences of discrimination. We ask that you listen to the stories of LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and continue to take care of each other during these debates.