NSW – Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020

On behalf of the Hon. Mark Latham MLC I write to update you that the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 was defeated in the NSW Legislative Council yesterday, 23 February 2022.

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council partly as a response to the Commonwealth’s 2018 Religious Freedoms Review of the Expert Panel, which was Chaired by Philip Ruddock. Among its various recommendations, the Review stated that:

New South Wales and South Australia should amend their anti-discrimination laws to render it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s ‘religious belief or activity’ including on the basis that a person does not hold any religious belief. In doing so, consideration should be given to providing for the appropriate exceptions and exemptions, including for religious bodies, religious schools and charities.

The Bill had recently also been subject of a Joint Select Parliamentary Committee Inquiry conducted in New South Wales. After extensive public consultation and hearings, the Committee released its Report on 31 March 2021 with the main finding that there was a need to:

protect individuals and religious organisations from discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs and activities.

Mr Latham’s Bill was viewed as a good template for this approach. Despite the Review’s recommendation and the Inquiry’s finding, both the NSW Government and the Labor party voted against the Bill.

Please find below a link to the video of Mr Latham’s speeches

https://doc-0k-7o-docs.googleusercontent.com/docs/securesc/32bjts07laaqvb016e3nmemdu96t90rn/kr3p697k6batvgjv2ofkb96u6pds4ku8/1645739850000/11332135425925577735/12730042482861073997/1tnV9J30kItM_fmeNuplOPlz7qptJwmnR?e=download&authuser=0 

and a link to Hansard, the parliamentary record of the speeches.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tnV9J30kItM_fmeNuplOPlz7qptJwmnR/view?usp=sharing

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardResult.aspx#/docid/HANSARD-1820781676-88161/link/2251