COTA Australia strongly supports the principle of non-discrimination and specifically supports the legislative package’s intention to remove any discrimination on the basis of religion. COTA supports the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 18 that states “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” We note interpretation of the ICCPR includes the right to hold a religious view, as well as not to profess a religion or belief.
No person should feel unsafe disclosing their religion, or feel compelled to do so. No person should be subject to ridicule on the basis of their religious belief or activity, just as they should not be ridiculed on any other personal attribute. If passed, the religious discrimination legislative package would introduce ‘religious belief or activity’ as a protected attribute in federal anti-discrimination laws, alongside existing protections such as age, race, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. COTA welcomes the inclusion of religion in federal protections, but such introduction must ensure that the protection of ‘religious belief or activity’ must be equal to other personal attributes within Australia’s anti-discrimination framework – no more or less important than any other.