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South Australian church leaders don't want anti-discrimination law

Churches and religious groups in South Australia have complained to the State Government about a proposed racial and religious vilification Bill that aims to protect them.

The Advertiser reports that more than 90% of submissions received by Friday opposed the proposed law that would make it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of his or her religious beliefs in areas such as work, education and memberships.

Churches believe the Bill could suppress debate on religious matters. They also are concerned that their teachings about other religions could be in breach of the proposed new law and invite court action.

Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson said the Bill "could have the effect of heightening religious differences, especially where a religious group comes to believe that its legitimate right to freely express religious opinion is being unreasonably frustrated by unforeseen interpretations of the law."

The overwhelmingly negative response means the legislation is unlikely to proceed. The State's Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the outcry by religious leaders had been noted and would be discussed over the coming weeks.

"Premier Mike Rann made a pledge as Opposition leader to look at the laws but he has made it clear from the outset that if there wasn't a consensus among religions, both non-Christian and Christian denominations in SA, that the changes won't go ahead," he said.

Discussion Paper Proposal for a new law against religious vilification (South Australian Govt)

The Advertiser

2 Sep 2002