It was a very sad day for freedom of speech and freedom of religion in Victoria when the Victorian parliament’s Legislative Council passed the controversial Equal Opportunity Bill on Thursday 15 April 2010.
The Bill had previously been passed by the Legislative Assembly and will now become law.
This draconian new bill gives wide ranging powers to the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to launch their own investigations even when a complaint hasn’t been made.
The Bill also severely restricts religious freedom by requiring religious bodies and schools to prove that it is an inherent requirement for a position for them to discriminate in areas such as gender, sexual orientation, marital status and even religion! It also requires these bodies to show it is “reasonably necessary” to discriminate regarding their “doctrine” in all other matters (the training and employment of ministers is about the only exception).
All Members of the Liberal and National Parties voted against the Bill, along with Peter Kavanagh of the Democratic Labor Party.
We congratulate them for standing for freedom and voting against this Bill.
There were some fine, passionate speeches—including those from Peter Kavanagh and Liberals Inga Peulich and Bernie Finn.
All three Greens and all Labor Members voted for the Bill. The vote was 22 to 18.
The Liberals have now committed, in a meeting with the Australian Christian Lobby, to repeal these draconian provisions if they are elected in November.
See the Salt Shakers Campaign page for full details and links: http://www.saltshakers.org.au/take-action/campaigns/611-vic-religious-exceptions-restricted-act-now