I am presenting a paper on this topic at the November meeting of the Newcastle University Clinical Unit in Ethics and Health Law (CUEHL) this evening. A copy of the paper can be downloaded here:
Two cases have been highlight overseas recently where a Christian employee has been fired for declining to use the “preferred pronoun” of a person who identifies as a different gender to their biological sex. The cases illustrate that religious freedom, and free speech generally, in the workplace can be under challenge in circumstances involving “gender identity” issues. It is not clear how such cases would be resolved in Australia.
“Freedom for Faith” has released its submission to the Commonwealth Government on its Exposure Draft Religious Discrimination Bill. It can be downloaded here. I recommend it as an excellent overview of the Bill, with a good summary of its good points and some areas where it could be improved. I have provided some previous comments on the Bill here and here. Public submissions are still being received here until October 2.
I gave an interview recently to the Gospel Coalition Australia website, in which I explore some of the good and bad points of the legislation released last week. The interview is linked here: https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/legal-reflections-religious-discrimination-bill/.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General has released Exposure Drafts of a package of Federal Bills designed to improve religious freedom protections under Australian law, along with associated explanatory information. The legislation responds to the recommendations of the Ruddock Panel into Religious Freedom, released late in 2018. Public comment has been invited by 2 October, 2019.
The main item is the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 (“RDB”), which broadly replicates the existing pattern of anti-discrimination laws enacted by the Commonwealth, but picking up for the first time at the Federal level the “protected characteristics” of “religious belief or activity”. Two ancillary Bills propose consequential amendments to other legislation, add some specific matters to be taken into account in objects clauses for other discrimination laws, and slightly amend or clarify the laws on charities and marriage.
The RDB is a lengthy document (68 clauses over 52 pages), with some complexities that will need to be unpacked. But I would like to offer a brief overview and an initial response, which will be followed up later by more detailed comments about particular issues. I can say, however, that it looks like being a worthwhile and helpful change which in general will further the cause of religious freedom (for both believers and non-believers) in Australia.