Law changes fiercely debated

Government frontbencher Guy BarnettThe state’sChristian community feelspersecuted against through an inability to freely express their views under the current Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, government frontbenchersclaim.
Nanjing Night Net

Debate on controversial changes to the act resumed on Tuesday; namely on the government’s proposed amendmenttoallowpeople to use religion as the basisfor expressing certain views.

The government’s decision to introduce the changehad beenprompted bya complaint by Hobart transgender activist Martine Delaney to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner about a pamphlet produced by the Catholic Church against same sex marriage.

Lyons Liberal MHARene Hidding said the pamphletdealt with the church’s view on marriagein a fair and reasonable way.

He said there was a belief now thatanyone who might read out parts of the Bible in a public place may have a discrimination case brought against themif somebody was offended by a particular passage.

Lyons Liberal MHAGuy Barnett saidmembers of Christian community felt that they couldn’t speak honestly on views, evenwhen going to great pains to be courteous while under attack for their views on issues like marriage equality.

“Christians at the moment feel intimidated, harassed and unfairly criticised,” he said.

“This is the consequence of those that believe otherwise.”

Franklin Labor MHALara Giddingssaid the amendment effectively exempted anyone of faith from the Anti-Discrimination Act, giving them a free pass to insult and offend anyone who had lifestyles or beliefs that they did not agree with.

She said the change would mean that not all Tasmanians would be equal under the act.

Mr Hidding met with Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks this year to discuss placing a ban on Wicked Campers–campervans decorated with deliberately edgy, sexist and offensive messages.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connorsaid under the changes, the company could use religious freedom to avoidany government plan to ban the campers from the road.

Leader of Government Business MichaelFerguson denied that would be the case as it would need to be proven that the messages were produced in good faith.

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