Proposed changes to the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act are alarming Christians.
They would make it much harder for religious institutions to sack or refuse to hire LGBT staff.
The draft still allows them to reject someone on “the grounds of religious belief or activity” or if it interferes with “the application of doctrine”.
The NT News reports that in 2017, the NT government attempted to make amendments, but faced a widespread backlash for moving to strengthen vilification laws.
The newspaper notes that in response, “the draft replicates section 18c of the Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Act, commonly referred to as vilification, making it illegal for someone in the NT to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person on the bases of ‘protected attributes’”
The Australian Christian Lobby’s National Director of Politics Wendy Francis is concerned about the offence-based laws because “what offends one person is somebody else’s truth.”
She told Vision Radio that could mean secular courts would decide what’s acceptable in churches.
“This is a really huge issue, this particular law because it also allows courts to determine whether church theology and doctrine is robust or not, so they decide ‘No, you can’t say that because other people in your church may not necessarily believe that,'” Ms Francis said.
The NT government says many of the proposed changes aim to modernise parts of the law by renewing definitions for disability, gender, relationship status and sexuality.
The NT News reports complaints to the Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Commission reached their highest level in six years in the 2020-2021 financial year, with 371 complaints.