Australian MP calls for new religious freedom law making religious belief exempt from job contracts

4 June 2019

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Leading Australian MP Barnaby Joyce is calling for a new religious freedom law , dubbed “Folau’s Law”, that will protect freedoms and make religious belief exempt from employment contracts.

The former deputy prime minister and former National Party leader said, “You can’t bring people’s faith beliefs into a contract. Your own views on who God is, where God is or whether there’s a God should remain your own personal views and not part of any contractual obligation.”

The proposed legislation has been nicknamed “Folau’s Law”, referring to Christian rugby player Israel Folau who was dismissed by Australian Rugby on 15 April after he posted an image on social media quoting Scripture and saying that “hell awaits” drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters unless they repent.

The image’s caption also stated, "Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him."

Australian MP and former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce
Australian MP and former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce [Image source: Simon.chamberlain]

Joyce said of Folau’s sacking, “People were a little bit shocked that someone could lose their job because of what they believe.”

The attorney-general, Christian Porter, is expected to present a Religious Discrimination Act to Parliament in July, acting on a pre-election pledge to increase protections for people of faith against discrimination and vilification.

Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the election marked a “new dawn” for religious freedom.

Members of the ruling Liberal-National Coalition say their surprise victory in this month’s general election , which saw significant swings away from the Labour opposition in highly-religious seats*, strengthens their case for bolder, far-reaching reforms to enshrine freedoms, other than freedom from discrimination.

*Seats with the highest numbers of people identifying with major religions as recorded by the 2016 census.

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