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Tasmanian disability advocates rally against the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill | The Examiner


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A Tasmanian disability advocate says people with disability will be harassed, bullied or discriminated against if planned changes to the Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Act proceed. The government last month tabled an amendment bill which would allow a person to intimidate, humiliate, ridicule or insult another person free from repercussion if they do so on the basis of religious belief. They may also refuse goods and services, work or education if they did so because of their religious beliefs. READ MORE: Why a country pub’s exposure to COVID is stinging the whole town Ana Pike, a disability advocate who lives with a disability herself, said people with disability made the highest proportion of complaints under Tasmania’s law against humiliating and other bullying behaviour. She said if the amendment bill was approved, the Commonwealth laws would override state laws, and thus, potentially prevent the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner from pursuing such complaints. “People with disability still experience bullying in the name of religion, so the federal bill will literally take our rights away,” she said. READ MORE: List of Northern roadworks to cause delays over the coming weeks “It’s time to tell the federal government to keep its bigotry to itself and stop undermining the more inclusive place Tasmania has become.” Ms Pike has launched a petition against the changes which can be found at: https://www.change.org/p/don-t-let-the-federal-government-take-away-my-protections. According to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner’s 2020-21 annual report, there were 68 complaints about offensive conduct towards a person with a disability. READ MORE: Remembering Aunty Dulcie Greeno: The last of the great shell stringers There were 74 complaints made in 2019-20. There were 29 complaints made about racial discrimination in 2020-21, 18 complaints about offensive conduct in relation to gender and 16 concerning age discrimination. A parliamentary committee is examining the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill. In a submission to the committee, Disability Voices Tasmania chairman Michael Small said the bill went beyond protections from discrimination on the basis of religion and in fact introduced the right to discriminate. “People with disability constantly experience ridicule, offensive assumptions, bias, and intimidation,” he said. “It does not matter whether this arises from hate, prejudice, misguided assumptions, and attitudes towards disability, or because of religious belief – or one person’s interpretation of religious belief. “What matters is the hurt, humiliation, and long-term impact we experience as a result of it.” Unions Tasmania and the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week voiced their opposition to the federal government’s planned changes to anti-discrimination laws, arguing the changes would have a negative impact on Tasmanian workplaces. Unions Tasmania secretary Jessica Munday said state laws had allowed for development of inclusive workplace policies which would have been difficult to achieve elsewhere. What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor:

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