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Liberals Release Draft Amendments to Weaken Anti-Discrimination Act

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 August 2016

Tags: Anti-Discrimination Act, Discrimination, Marriage Equality, LGBTI

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Liberal Government has released divisive, potentially dangerous and completely unnecessary proposed changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998.

The draft amendments are a sign of Premier Will Hodgman's weakness.  They are clear evidence of the Premier caving in to some church groups and right wing conservatives in his own party.

This is not about 'getting the balance right' as the Premier has stated.  This is about allowing language that the Premier surely knows will cause hurt as opponents of marriage equality feel free to depict the lives, loves and desire for equal treatment of LGBTI people as illegitimate.

These are cynical changes in the lead up to a possible plebiscite on marriage equality.  We remain concerned for the wellbeing of LGBTI Tasmanians who may find themselves in a poisonous public debate, inadequately protected by the law.

The question remains; what is it that religious groups want to say that they can't already?  We've asked that question in Parliament, but the Premier has been unable or refused to provide an answer.  

The Anti-Discrimination Act already provides for respectful free speech.  These changes would have the effect of allowing language that hurts people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex. 

The proposed changes to give religious groups an exemption under Section 55 of the Act have been condemned by the Equal Opportunities Commissioner and the Australian Lawyers Alliance, as well as LGBTI Tasmanians.

These stakeholders recognise the proposed changes are likely to unleash a torrent of discriminatory language towards LGBTI people by those who are opposed to marriage equality.

The Greens will fight any weakening of the Anti-Discrimination Act.  The draft amendments are open for public comment, and we encourage all concerned Tasmanians to join the campaign to uphold the State's strong anti-discrimination laws.