It’s been more than six years since Liberal and Labor promised protections for freedom of religion after this fundamental human right was smashed by the re-definition of marriage in law.
Pressure on faith-based schools, churches, charities and faithful Christians in woke workplaces has mounted as society’s gender norms have been upended.
The Turnbull and Morrison governments dragged the chain until a bill was finally put in the dying days of the Morrison government only to be scuttled by Liberals joining with Labor and the Greens to defeat it.
The Albanese Government is yet to present its promised bill but Attorney General Mark Dreyfus announced this week it has now been delayed until July.
Meanwhile the Government is sitting on a revised report into religious schools from the Australian Law Reform Commission.
The original version released last January recommended stripping faith-based schools of the freedom to employ staff who share parents’ beliefs on issues like marriage and the science of gender.
After an outcry, the Albanese Government told the ALRC to revise it, something that took the rest of 2023.
Ominously, union leaders who essentially control Labor have warned the Albanese Government this week they would oppose moves to allow faith-based schools to favour the employment of teachers who believed what parents believed on marriage and gender.
If faith-based schools are not allowed to employ staff who share the faith, including on matters of marriage and the science of gender, it will be the end of faith-based schools in Australia.
With no serious champions in the major parties sustaining a public argument for freedom of speech and religion, it is difficult to see anything meaningful emerging this July.
The LGBTIQA+ political lobby has controlled the agenda since marriage was redefined and is intolerant of those who wish to organise schools, religious organisations and workplaces around a different understanding of marriage and gender.
Liberal and Labor are essentially on-board with the LGBTIQA+ view of the world.
It’s been six long years since Malcolm Turnbull, at the urging of former Prime Minister John Howard during the height of the same sex marriage debate, agreed to protect the freedoms of those who believed in the gender diversity requirement for marriage and the biological gender binary.
It will be close to seven years before Mark Dreyfus unveils the latest attempt to put Humpty back together.
Lyle Shelton is National Director of the Family First Party. He started his career as a rural journalist before being elected as a member of the Toowoomba City Council and serving the Australian Christian Lobby for 10 years, half of that decade as ACL's Managing Director. He was a Director and spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage during the 2017 postal survey campaign which resulted in the legal undefinition of marriage. He also blogs here.
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