Foreign Policy Watch: India-Australia

Australia’s controversial Religious Discrimination Bill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Religiious intolerance accross the world

Australian PM Scott Morrison has introduced a contentious piece of anti-discrimination legislation called the “Religious Discrimination Bill” in their parliament.

What is the Bill about?

  • The bill aims to eliminate discrimination on the ground of religious beliefs or activities.
  • It will ensure Australians are protected from discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity.
  • The timing of the introduction of this bill, ahead of the federal elections is being seen as an attempt by the Morrison government to target religious voters.

What does the Religious Discrimination Bill say?

  • The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds of religious belief or activity in a range of areas of life including work, education, access to premises, and the provision of goods, services, and accommodation.
  • Discrimination is unlawful if it occurs, for example, because of a religious belief or activity that the person holds or engages in.
  • It is also unlawful if it occurs because of the person’s association with someone else who holds or engages in a religious belief or activity, regardless of whether or not they themselves hold or engage in a religious belief or activity.

Contentious provisions

  • The bill also allows faith-based organizations such as religious schools to hire and enrol people from particular faiths.
  • The bill states that religious bodies can give preference, “in good faith, to persons who hold or engage in a particular religious belief or activity”.
  • It goes on to say that a religious body does not discriminate against a person under this Act by engaging, in good faith, in conduct that a person of the same religion as the religious body could reasonably consider.

Because of this clause, the bill has alarmed some LGBTQI groups and some legal experts who say that the bill will discriminate against gay teachers and students.


  • Some critics of the bill see it as a piece of legislation that is legalizing hate.
  • Some are questioning the government and asking for proof that people are discriminated against on the basis of religion in the country.
  • Further, there are also demands to protect gay students from discrimination.


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conor mcgregor
2 years ago

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