Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bills

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee

10:24 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

That's right, Senator Abetz: if you cannot subscribe to that proposition that people should be able, in a lawful manner, to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching then what does religious freedom mean at all? It means nothing.

We've had a very important debate in the Senate today and a lot of us, including me, have expressed very powerful sentiments about the importance of treating gay people with equality. But the importance of respecting the equal right of all to manifest their religious beliefs is just as important. This debate we are having now is just as important as the debate that we had earlier in the day, and yesterday, on the substance of Senator Smith's bill. And by your vote on this amendment you declare your hand. As you vote on this amendment, so shall you be known. If you decide that you will vote against the proposition that a person should not, in a lawful manner, be able to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching, so be it. If you want to declare that to be your position, if you want to set your face against the most modest and generic and least challenging description of the essential elements of religious liberty, then live with it.

There are some on the other side of the chamber who subscribe to no religious belief at all. There are some who do subscribe to a religious belief. If you decide to vote against this amendment, know and understand that you will, by your vote, be declaring yourself to be somebody who does not accept the right of a person, in a lawful manner, to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. That will be your position. It's not about the ICCPR or the transportation into Australian law of any of its provisions; it is about whether you accept even the lowest threshold description of religious liberty or whether you do not.

The CHAIR: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 8333 revised, as moved by Senator Brandis and Senator Canavan, be agreed to.

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