Flawed QLD Bill Progresses

The consultation on the Queensland Anti Discrimination Bill 2024 has closed and HRLA has provided a comprehensive submission to the Queensland Government outlining its serious concerns with the Bill.

Unfortunately, the timeframe given by the Government for HRLA and other stakeholders to examine the Bill and its explanatory notes was extremely short. This does not instil confidence that the consultation will genuinely consider a wide range of views.

Nevertheless, as previously outlined, this Bill has a number of fundamental flaws that strike at the heart of religious freedom and freedom of speech.

It is clear that this Bill has been influenced by the anti-religious narrative that believes the very existence of Christians schools is ipso-facto discriminatory.

That is reflected in the extremely narrow exemption carved out for religious institutions that could limit, for example, a Christian school’s ability to hire non-teaching staff who share their beliefs.

Also concerning, and somewhat contradictory to the religious exemption clause, is the “positive duty” clause where institutions must proactively stamp out “harassment and vilification”. As written, this could put schools in legal trouble if they simply teach Christian sexual ethics because someone may complain that it is “vilification”.

As HRLA outlines in our submission, this Bill is fundamentally flawed because:

“It strongly preferences non-discrimination rights at the expense of fundamental rights of religious liberty and associated freedoms of conscience, speech and association.”

The premise on which this Bill is founded – and many others like it – is that religious freedom and freedom of speech are incompatible with non-discrimination.

This is a false premise, and in elevating non-discrimination it relegates one of the fundamental freedoms of a democratic society to the bottom of the legal hierarchy.

This Bill fails to protect religious freedom, instead restricting it even further. 

HRLA continues to work hard to ensure that religious freedom is safeguarded in our laws, that religious organisations can thrive, and that a parent’s right to choose Christian education is guaranteed.