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Disability Rights Groups urge no vote from MPs on Religious Discrimination Bill

Australian Parliament House in Canberra
Photo: Dreamstime

Australia’s peak disability organisations have released a statement expressing deep concern about the impact on people with disability of the new Religious Discrimination Bill which will be debated in Parliament today.

In the statement – which calls on MPs to vote against the Bill – the groups express particular concern with provisions permitting ‘statements of belief’ to override existing legal and policy protections for people with disability from humiliating, insulting, ridiculing and demeaning behaviour and gives licence to an increase in such behaviour towards people with disability, undermining our confidence and sense of worth as Australians.

The statement details that people with disability are often subjected to unwelcome and uninvited statements of religious belief that demean disability as the result of sin, possession, or karma, such as:

  • Their disability is a “punishment from God for their, or their parents’, sins”
  • Their disability can be “healed by prayer” or by “living virtuously”
  • They “deserve to suffer from their disability for what they have done in a previous life”

The organisations endorsing the statement include:

  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • People with Disability Australia
  • National Ethnic Disability Alliance
  • Children and Young People with Disability Australia
  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia
  • Down Syndrome Australia
  • Inclusion Australia
  • Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
  • Brain Injury Australia
  • Physical Disability Australia
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • All Means All
  • National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia

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