The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on May 30, 2013.
Earlier this year, the Senate sent the Bill to theÂ Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation CommitteeÂ for an Inquiry. Ninety submissions were received (see submissions) plus an additional 38 'form letters'.
The Report was due TODAY (17 June). However, the Report was handed down EARLYÂ last Friday (14 June).
The Senate Committee hasÂ proposed MORE restrictions on religious freedom.
The Report endorses theÂ TOTAL BILL - but suggests THREE MORE amendments which restrict free speech and religious freedom. Recommendations are at the beginning of the Report.
The Committee's FIRST Recommendation says thatÂ religious exemptions would NOT APPLY...
3.66 The committee recommends that the Bill be amended to provide that religious exemptions in section 37 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 do not apply in respect of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in connection with the provision of Commonwealth-funded aged care services.
The Bill ALREADY proposed that a religious organisation running aged care that was funded by the Commonwealth could not discriminate against homosexual people whoÂ applied to be residents. It was claimed that this is their 'home' - but we noted that it is already the HOME of the current residents and they would be adversely affected by this proposal.
This RECOMMENDATION goes much further. It would remove the general religious exemption of Section 37 of the SDA -Â read it here.
The first three parts of Section 37 refer to the ordination of priests and ministers, training and education of priests and ministers and the appointment of people to carry out functions of a religious nature.
We ask, "If you can remove the exemptions in this ONE area of aged care, why not in other areas?"
Regarding aged care, how would removing these exemptions affect the appointment and duties of a CHAPLAIN at an aged care facility run by a religious body?
The final partÂ of the CURRENT exemption reads,Â "(d) any other act or practiceÂ of a body established for religious purposes, being an act or practice that conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that religion or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion."
Removing this exemption would be VERY wide-ranging in terms of employment and the practices of the religious organisation running the aged care facility.
Once this principle was adopted for 'aged care', how long would it be before it was also applied to OTHER Commonwealth funded programs run by religious bodies.
For instance, the employment of homosexual teachers by religious schools or the employment of homosexual staff by a hospital run by a religious body...
Greens Senator Penny Wright, who is Member of the Senate Committee,Â is ALREADYÂ advocating for those two thingsÂ - on theÂ Greens FacebookÂ pageÂ and in media interviews.
The Committee is made up of three ALP Senators, 2 Liberal Senators and one Greens Senator.
The Chair is Labor Senator Trish Crossin. Another Labor Member is Louise Pratt, who is a lesbian.
The Greens Senator, Penny Wright from SA, has been actively speaking about how the Bill doesn't go far enough!
At the launch of the report she claimed that the discrimination law shouldÂ NOTÂ have ANY exemptions for religious organisations. She said,Â "These exemptions mean a health or homelessness service could refuse to help a transgender person, while a religious school could turn away children because their parents are gay. The Australian Greens say any organisation receiving public funding to provide a public service must comply with widely-held community standards and anti-discrimination principles."Â Read her Media Release.
DissentingÂ 'Minority Report' from Coalition Senators
The Coalition Senators on the Committee, Gary HumphriesÂ (ACT) andÂ Sue Boyce (Qld),Â have written a 'Minority Report'. This opposes the new recommendation regardingÂ the removal of religious exemptions for Commonwealth-funded church-run aged care facilities.
However, they have NOT opposed the Bill as a whole. In fact, they support the Bill as it was presented!
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR 12 STATE SENATORS and ASK THEM TO VOTE AGAINSTÂ
the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex) Bill 2013.
Contact details for Senators -Â click hereÂ then click on your state on the map.
PS - If you haven't written to them on the Greens Bill to recognise 'foreign same-sex marriages' (info here), please ask them to vote against that Bill too.