Religious discrimination will be outlawed in NSW, Attorney General Mark Speakman announced today.
“NSW is a proudly multicultural and multi-faith society. We’re pleased to be taking this critical step to protect people of faith and of no faith from discrimination and to support freedom of religion,” Mr Speakman said.
“By making discrimination on the grounds of religion unlawful, we’re ensuring that our laws reflect modern community values.”
The NSW Government will introduce a bill in Parliament to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), adding religion to existing protected grounds of disability, sex, race, age, marital or domestic status, homosexuality, transgender status and carer’s responsibilities.
These reforms will see NSW join other states and territories in making religious discrimination unlawful.
Minister for Multiculturalism Natalie Ward said the reforms will support those facing religious discrimination to access remedies and support through Anti-Discrimination NSW.
“Religious discrimination is unacceptable in our community and the NSW Government is committed to stopping this behaviour,” Mrs Ward said.
“We have a harmonious multi-faith community in NSW which is grounded in respect. It deserves recognition and protection to thrive.”
In June 2021, the Commonwealth Government announced its intention to introduce a Religious Discrimination Bill to protect against discrimination based on religious belief or activity in key areas of public life into Federal Parliament by the end of this year.
The NSW Government plans to await the passage of the Commonwealth Bill through Parliament before finalising the detail of NSW reforms, to enable it to consider the interaction of Commonwealth law with NSW reforms and to avoid constitutional inconsistency.
This announcement responds to the central recommendation of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry, which found that there was a strong need to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs and activities.
The reform also responds to a recommendation of the Expert Panel Report: Religious Freedom Review (the “Ruddock review”) that NSW should amend its anti-discrimination law to protect against discrimination on religious grounds.
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