Ian Thorpe and Lauren Jackson take aim at religion Bill
RETIRED Australian sport stars Ian Thorpe and Lauren Jackson have come out against the Morrison Government's Religious Discrimination Bill, saying it "threatens to divide" the community and will give people a "licence to discriminate".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter released their second draft of the Bill last week, having made several significant changes to the original version.
For example, the new draft makes it clear that religious bodies will "continue to be able to make staffing and other decisions based on faith".
Health workers will still be able to conscientiously object to carrying out procedures that contradict their faith.
And the Bill more precisely defines certain terms like "conscientiously object" and "vilify".
"There were lots of suggestions that this would be a divisive debate and I don't believe it has been, and I don't believe it needs to be," Mr Morrison said.
"It is a multicultural society. The diverse nature of the beliefs that we hold in Australia is a key part of who we are as a country, and this is an initiative to provide a bulwark that these important elements of our society are protected into the future."
Thorpe and Jackson don't see it in such a positive light.
The swimming and basketball legends have teamed up to appear in a video for the LGBTIQ advocacy group Equality Australia, urging Australians to contact their MP and say they're opposed to the Bill.
"A Bill has been drafted that threatens to divide our communities. The Religious Discrimination Bill will give people a licence to discriminate," Thorpe says.
Jackson says: "The Bill would mean we're less protected under the law. It will leave us all vulnerable."
Author Benjamin Law is also featured. He warns viewers "what constitutes discrimination today will be considered OK tomorrow".
"It will take away your rights at work, at school and at hospitals when people say offensive things," he says.
When he revealed the second draft last week, Mr Morrison was asked whether faith-based groups had "got their way" with many of the changes.
"We've been listening to everybody," the Prime Minister said.
"This is a law for all Australians. What I have noticed, and been really encouraged by, whether people are of a religious faith or not of a religious faith, there is a very strong view that religious faiths should be respected in this country, regardless of whether you hold one yourself.
"I would say that this process that we're engaged in is very much respecting that broader view, and the sort of things we're seeking to achieve will gain that support because it is based on this principle that Australia is a country of respect and of tolerance, and the liberties that we have also come with responsibilities.
"The changes, I think, have brought to light the broader positive contribution that religious organisations play in our society."
The Government will keep consulting on the Bill over the summer months before looking to pass it through parliament next year.