Supporters of protection for religious freedom are being urged to take part in a survey by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, as the Parliament considers the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021.

The Bill was introduced to Federal Parliament recently, the first time such protection has been considered, even though other attributes such as sex and disability have been protected in law.

According to the legislation, when a religious body acts in accordance with its religious beliefs, it is not discriminating on the grounds of religious belief or activity. Further it protects the right of religious bodies, religious schools, hospitals, aged care and disability providers and charities to choose to employ people whose religious beliefs will uphold the religious ethos of their organisation. (see a summary of the bill’s provisions here).

The survey consists ten questions, such as whether you support the need to have such legislation, and whether you support the bill before the Parliament. The answers are Yes/No with the option to add a reason for each answer. It is online here and open to anyone.

The Religious Discrimination Bill Survey Questions

  • 1. Do you believe there should be legislation to protect people from religious discrimination in certain areas of public life on the grounds of their religious belief or activity? This will include protecting people who don’t hold a religious belief as well?
  • 2. We currently have a Sex Discrimination Act, Age Discrimination Act and Racial Discrimination Act, do you believe it is important to also have a Religious Discrimination Act as well?
  • 3. Do you support the religious discrimination legislative package that is currently before the Parliament?
  • 4. Do you believe that parents should be able to choose to send their children to a school of their choice which aligns with their religious values?
  • 5. Do you consider that religious schools should be able to require all students to practice the religion affiliated with that school, if this requirement is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of people of that religion?
  • 6. Do you believe religious schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, accommodation providers and disability service providers should be able to preference the hiring of staff of the same religious belief, as long as this is in accordance with a publicly available written policy?
  • 7. Do you consider that religious charities (not covered by question 6) should be able to preference persons who share their religious beliefs when making employment decisions or offering services?
  • 8. Do you believe religious people would be comfortable to share their beliefs in public life without the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021?
  • 9. Do you think it should be lawful for a person to be able to make a statement of belief so long as it is made in good faith and is not malicious, threatening, intimidating, or harassing and does not vilify a person or group or advocate the commission of a serious offence?Key point
  • 10. Should the committee choose to publish an anonymised representative sample of responses, do you agree to all or parts of your response being published?

Bishop Michael Stead, the chair of the Sydney Diocese Religious Freedom Reference Group, is urging Christians to support the bill by taking the survey and passing the link on to others.

It is open to responses until 5pm December 21st. Background information is available on the Bill’s features and the common objections to it.

Take the survey.