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Controversial ‘Folau Clause’ Dropped From The Federal Government’s Revised Religious Discrimination Bill

Controversial ‘Folau Clause’ Dropped From The Federal Government’s Revised Religious Discrimination Bill

The federal government has dropped the controversial 'Folau clause' from the revised religious discrimination bill.

Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston

The Australian Government has dropped a controversial clause from its proposed religious discrimination bill.

The clause would have banned 'indirect discrimination' and prevented employers from framing policies and social media codes to bar employees from expressing their religious views.

The section was known as the 'Folau clause' because it refers to former Wallaby Israel Folau and his battle with Rugby Australia over a controversial post on Instagram.

The rugby star's contract was terminated in 2019 for claiming homosexuals, adulterers, atheists and other 'sinners' would go to hell.

However, according to Guardian Australia, the bill still contains other controversial clauses, including the 'statement of belief' clause, which would override other commonwealth, state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

The bill also contains clauses that allows religious schools and other faith-based institutions to discriminate against people who do not share their faith.

The bill has been disputed for years, with church leaders arguing for stronger measures and groups including Equality Australia pushing for 'a bill that removes existing exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that allow religious organisations to treat LGBTIQ+ people unfairly'.

"Every person in Australia deserves protection from discrimination, no matter who they are, whom they love, or what they believe," said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

"But the federal government's current draft Religious Discrimination Bill is deeply flawed, containing unprecedented and dangerous provisions that would undermine access to healthcare and inclusive workplaces.

"That's why such a broad chorus of voices spoke out against the bill, from industry, unions, people of faith, women, people with a disability and LGBTIQ+ people.

"We urge the Attorney-General to deliver a proposal that protects everyone in our community, regardless of belief, equally."

Michaelia Cash with small business representatives.

Guardian Australia reported Attorney General Michaelia Cash has briefed MPs on the proposed changes to the bill, including a clause that protects someone from being disqualified from professional or qualifying bodies based on their religious expression.

Politicians including Katie Allen, George Christensen, Warren Entsch and Trent Zimmerman have warned they may still cross the floor on the legislation, which is expected to go into a full meeting of the Coalition next week before hitting parliament.

Education Minister Alan Tudge told Sky News that the rights around faith-based institutions and their hiring policies would grant religious schools and other workplaces the right to only employ people of their own faith, but would not allow them to discriminate against people for other reasons.

This means, according to Tudge, while a Catholic school could say a teacher is unable to work there if they're not Catholic, they cannot say that a teacher can't work at the school if they are gay.

"That wouldn't be lawful under our bill," Tudge told Sky News. "So the bill will certainly allow religious schools to employ people of their own faith - now, this is a critical principle at stake here, because ... you can't be a Catholic school if you can't employ Catholic teachers, you can't be a Muslim school without employing Muslim teachers.

"So we plan on protecting that very critical right for schools to be able to employ teachers of their own faith."

Featured Image Credit: Peter SPURRIER / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Australia, Politics