Australia Considers New Religious Freedom Bill following Firing of Christian Rugby Player
According to Reuters, the proposed legislation comes just a few months after Rugby Union International’s Israel Folau was fired from his post for posting on social media that hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters.”
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the legislation would allow Australians to express their faith on places like social media as long as the comments do not cause financial damage to their employer.
“Australia has a strong anti-discrimination framework with specific protections for people against discrimination on the basis of their age, sex, race and disability,” Porter said in a speech in Sydney.
“This draft bill released today extends those protections to provide protection for people against discrimination on the basis of their religion or religious belief, or lack thereof.”
The legislation will be introduced into parliament in October. The proposal does not address whether religious schools may hire and fire staff based on marital status and sexual orientation. Supporters of religious schools believe that the law should mandate those rights for religious schools.
“The situation is seen as urgent by many and it has been deferred,” said Michael Kellahan, the executive director of Freedom for Faith – a Christian legal think-tank.
“It would have been nice to have some leadership on this,” he added.
Folau filed a suit for an unfair dismissal case against Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs club in June. His case will go to trial in February 2020 unless a settlement is reached before then.
Folau made his comments in April regarding a decision in Tasmania to allow the issuing of gender optional birth certificates. He said in a tweet, “the devil has blindsided so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways.”
He added, “those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent.”
The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free. pic.twitter.com/BWSWTMye98— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) April 10, 2019
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Mark Kolbe/Staff