News National Right-wing MPs threaten religious bill

Right-wing MPs threaten religious bill

Israel Folau's contract was ripped up after suggesting gay people were among the 'sinners' destined for hell. Photo: Getty
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Conservative coalition MPs are threatening to blow up new religious freedom laws if they don’t go far enough to protect people of faith.

The Morrison government intends to make it unlawful to discriminate against people based on their religious beliefs, with Labor broadly backing their push.

Attorney-General Christian Porter is trying to unite right-wing and moderate members of the government with differing views on what the legislation should look like.

Running a series of workshops with coalition backbenchers, Mr Porter is offering to show concerned colleagues excerpts of the draft bill.

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Christian Porter wants to unite right-wing and moderate members of the government.

“I’ll be continuing to consult with my government colleagues right up to the introduction of the religious discrimination bill and throughout its consideration by the parliament,” he told The West Australian on Tuesday.

“These initial detailed consultations with colleagues will continue over coming weeks and will then shift to religious bodies and other stakeholders. The bill is going through constant revision.”

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is reserving his right to vote against the bill if he is unhappy with the final product.

“I am not a member of the executive. I am not a member of the cabinet. If I believe it is the right thing to do I will do it,” Mr Joyce told the newspaper.

Feeding into the religious freedom debate is the sacking of Israel Folau, who was dumped by Rugby Australia for saying on social media that gay people would go to hell unless they repented.

Labor frontbencher Jason Clare said the Israel Folau case was a “bloody mess”.

“It’s bad for Israel Folau, it’s bad for rugby union, it’s bad for gay and lesbian Australians that get caught in the middle of all of this,” he told Sky News.

Mr Clare said there was goodwill across the parliament on ensuring religious freedoms and protections.

“I’d urge the government to bring the opposition into their confidence and brief us on this legislation as well.”

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz insists everyone in his party is on the same page on protecting religious freedoms, despite differences in their specific views.

“One things that unites Liberals is freedom of speech, belief and association. Freedom of religion is a subset of that,” he told ABC radio.

“I see a great determination right across the differing views … within the Coalition.”