HAMILTON Anglican Parish rector, Father Adrian Stephens, has rejected the offer of a religious exemption from the proposed Federal Anti-Discrimination Bill.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed a Bill that would combineAustralia’s various anti-discrimination laws into a single piece of legislation.
This Bill has been fiercely debated for a number of reasons, including its possible threat to free speech.
The draft exemption for religious organisations to discriminate against people based on their race, sexuality or even relationship status has prompted Fr Stephens to speak out.
Fr Stephens told the Hamilton Spectator that, in his personal view, churches did not have the legal or moral grounds to claim such an exemption.
“I don’t think that any organisation has the right to operate outside the laws of the country, regardless of their status,” he said.
“There was a big push for Islamic people to be able to function under Islamic Sharia Law, which was refused on the grounds that they would be outside Australian law.
“If we can stop Sharia Law from being implemented, then why would Christians want to be acknowledged as being outside the law of this country?”
Fr Stephens also had a message for politicians who claimed to represent Christians in the debate over anti-discrimination, particularly Wannon MP, Dan Tehan, who supports the exemption.
“He may represent me broadly in Parliament, but in this particular argument he doesn’t represent me,” Fr Stephens said.
Full story in today’s Spectator.