Curtin Student Guild condemns the Religious Discrimination Bill
11/2/2022 | Download
The Curtin Student Guild, which represents 30,000 university students, has condemned the controversial Religious Discrimination Bill.
Guild President Theodora Rohl said that the proposed legislation discriminated against people with accessibility issues, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people who identify as or with women.
The Guild welcomed the news that the bill, which has passed the House of Representatives, would not be debated in the Senate at this time because of Federal Government legal advice that it could lead to discrimination against children.
However, the Guild President said that the bill must be abandoned and she expressed disappointment with the ALP amendments and its position to support the legislation.
“This bill must not be passed,” said Ms Rohl.
The Guild’s Accessibility representative Rey Nairn said that the proposed legislation would further empower individuals to voice abusive and offensive opinions.
“Disabled people are regularly subjected to statements that our disability is a "punishment from God" and that we can be "cured through prayer.
“These statements are already somewhat protected by existing anti-discrimination legislation as a statement of opinion not necessarily intended to be offensive or abusive. This legislation will only empower abusers to abuse us further,” they said.
According to Rey Nairn, the bill would create additional accessibility issues as medical professionals could refuse to treat certain patients due to their religious convictions.
“Religious medical providers will be excused from the legal requirement to provide prophylaxis contraception in cases of assault, even where the hospital is being paid for by public funding.
Rey Nairn said that there was concern that the bill would circumvent anti-discrimination legislation and jeopardise the rights of minority religions.
“Existing anti-discrimination legislation does not force individuals to act in a way that contravenes their beliefs.
“At best, this bill is unnecessary, at worst, it is supporting and enabling abuse of vulnerable people, they said.
Cassidy Pemberton, the Guild’s Queer representative, said there was fear that the bill would effectively legalise discrimination especially against LGBTQIA+ people and disabled people.
“We only have to look at the recent example of Citipointe Christian College’s discriminatory enrolment contracts to see what kind of conduct could be caused by the passing of this bill into law.”
“There has been a lot of debate specifically surrounding protecting LGBTQIA+ students, but what happens once we are no longer students? We don’t want to be discriminated against any less after we’ve graduated.”
“Even if protections are put in place for LGTBQIA+ students, they aren’t in place for adults, such as teachers at the same school,” said Ms Pemberton.
“We are sick and tired of our basic rights being a point of debate.”
"Furthermore, the effect of passing this bill would put those who identify as women at risk, by allowing people to deny them essential health care based on their beliefs.
"This bill threatens women by taking away existing anti-discrimination protections that protect single mothers, de-factos, divorcees, those who identify as women in the LGBTQIA+ community and women who do not follow the same beliefs as the majority.
“This will restrict women from getting the help they are rightfully owed as human beings and would open them up to discrimination and hurt,” she said.
“This makes a mockery of all the strides that Australia has taken towards equality,” said Ms Pemberton.
Curtin Student Guild
Curtin Student Guild
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Curtin Student Guild
About Curtin Student Guild
Curtin Student Guild has been supporting the Curtin community for more than 50 years by providing essential services to students. Our elected student representatives work to deliver the best education and campus experience outcomes for students.
For further information visit guild.curtin.edu.au