Socialist senate candidate: ‘This bill was never about protecting lives — Christian or otherwise’

February 14, 2022
Petrina Harley addresses the Rainbow Rebellion WA rally on February 12. Photo: PFLAG + Perth/Facebook

If we needed more proof that the “religious discrimination” bill was anything other than an attempt to discriminate against the LGBTIQ community, especially our trans brothers and sisters, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has provided the proof.

It said that with the amendments to protect trans students the bill might as well as be abolished altogether, because it will cause "more harm than good".

This bill was never about protecting lives — Christian or otherwise. It was just another attempt by the hard right fundamentalists to gain power and to blur the lines between church and state.

Christians do not need an extra bill to protect their beliefs. They are not being discriminated against: they are not losing their jobs because of their beliefs; they are not being denied healthcare, housing or education for being Christian whereas that is what is happening now to the LGBTIQ community. They will face even more discrimination should this bill ever become law.

We already have laws to protect a person’s freedoms to believe. Religious bodies have their churches, tax free, and their private schools, which continue to receive public funding.

Bigotry and discrimination are not Christian beliefs. Nowhere in the Commandments, or anywhere in The Bible. does it say “Thou must persecute and exclude LGBTIQ people from their community”.

LNP Senator Amanda Stoker and Martin Iles of the ACL would have us believe that supporting LGBTIQ rights will destroy the sanctity of marriage and family. That’s the type of propaganda they spew. But there is an evil slippery slope that could happen if this bill is ever passed.

Besides gay and trans students, and teachers, being left without protections, it would widen the door to allow for women seeking abortions to be denied the health care measure on religious grounds. The bills would wind back years of hard fought rights for women. Single mothers who already bear the brunt of patriarchal disapproval could be denied housing on religious grounds. It could give heterosexual couples greater adoption rights.

This bill has been a shit-show from the start: how can a piece of legislation, supposedly to protect the rights of people, need so many amendments so as not to discriminate? This bill should be abolished in its entirety.

Shame on Labor for supporting it while haggling over people’s lives and now to claim a kind of victory, after  putting the LGBTIQ community through trauma once again.

It is time to get off the Liberal–Labor roundabout: the major parties like to think they are the only players, but that’s not the case. Think carefully about who you vote for because it is not the case that if you vote for a minor party you will be allowing the Coalition back in.

I am proud to share the platform today with people who genuinely want to help improve people’s lives, who are not career politicians. Some have spent years, decades, in the struggle and know full well that the punitive, authoritarian and divisive tactics of the major parties is no way forward.

[Petrina Harley is running for the Socialist Alliance in the Western Australia Senate. This article is based on a speech she gave to Rainbow Rebellion's rally on February 12.]

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