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Olympic Legend Ian Thorpe Calls Govt’s Religious Discrimination Bill ‘State-Sanctioned Discrimination’

Vivienne Kelly

Published 

Olympic Legend Ian Thorpe Calls Govt’s Religious Discrimination Bill ‘State-Sanctioned Discrimination’

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Five-time Olympic Gold winner Ian Thorpe has spoken out again against the Federal Government's Religious Discrimination Bill.

The Religious Discrimination Bill has been in a state of flux over the past three years, with many drafts, debates and deliberations.

It has purportedly been created to better protect the rights of religious Australians, however it has faced opposition for in fact allowing, and potentially even encouraging, other forms of discrimination.

With a Federal election expected by May, there are just five Senate sitting days for the Bill to become law.

The ABC noted the Government is 'running out of time' and said battles over its contents are 'expected to flare' this week.

Liberal MP Bridget Arches has threatened to cross the floor and oppose the legislation, while others want to make sure teachers aren't sacked for their sexuality.

Olympian Thorpe has been one public figure driving a campaign to get the Bill to 'disappear'.

"What this is, is it becomes a state-sanctioned discrimination," Thorpe said.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

"To give rights for... people while excluding another group of people, for me, is discrimination.

"And with that, we should consider what this place that we are in, what it represents and how it represents each and every one of us."

The Victorian Government is reportedly seeking legal advice on how it could defend state-based anti-discrimination legislation of the Federal Bill passes.

Pressure on the Scott Morrison-led Federal Government has mounted in recent weeks as the country hurtles towards an election and various real-world issues - including Citipointe Christian College's enrolment contracts - spotlighted the potential complexities and divisiveness the new laws could cause.

Should the Bill pass, it would create a new Religious Discrimination Act.

In the wake of backlash and uncertainty, however, the Government is now also proposing to amended S38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act.

This would ensure religious schools could not expel students if they are homosexual.

At this stage, however, it appears schools could still decide to discriminate against, and expel, transgender and other gender diverse students.

At a doorstop this morning, Morrison defended his motivations for pushing the Bill through, saying it's about protecting people, and that he stands by it '100 per cent'.

"For so many Australians, their faith and their religion is their culture. You can't separate them," he said.

"And when you listen to their stories, as I often do, they will tell stories over hundreds of years and even longer about how they... as a people of faith and religion have survived through some of the worst things you can possibly imagine in countries all around the world.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

"But they came here to Australia so they could get away from that and they could start a new life.

"And so they could have their religious faith and they could have their belief and they could have their community and they could have their culture, and that they would not be discriminated against.

"I don't want them to be discriminated against, and before the last election I said I wanted there to be laws in place that ensured their freedom from that discrimination.

"And that's what this is about."

Topics: News, Scott Morrison, Australia

Vivienne Kelly
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