Malcolm Turnbull has warned far-reaching religious protections that are discriminatory would “have virtually no prospect of getting through the parliament” as the Coalition grapples with division over how changes to the Marriage Act should look if the Yes vote succeeds in the postal survey.
The Prime Minister said amendments could be passed by any MP in the free vote but cautioned he would not support changing laws to increase discrimination, as some fear would happen if parliament passed a bill drafted by Liberal senator James Paterson.
Senator Paterson’s bill would extend religious protections to allow businesses that provide services to weddings the right to refuse service to gay couples.
Mr Turnbull said MPs would be free to move “any amendments they want” to a private-members bill that enters the parliament to change the Marriage Act.
“I don’t believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government would not countenance the making legal discrimination that is unlawful today,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The fact is that assuming there is a Yes vote tomorrow — the pollsters will really be rocked if there isn’t — but assuming there is there will be a private-member’s bill and amendments could be moved and if people want to move an amendment of that kind, well they can.
“I think it would have virtually no prospect of getting through the parliament, but as far as the government is concerned, we are keeping our promise.”
He said the conservative push for extensive religious protections did not mean his authority was undermined.
“It is under my prime ministership that all Australians have been given a say on this issue and if the answer is Yes then, as I promised, there will be a free vote and that means that you will have members of my party taking different views to members of the same party and ditto on the Labor side. That is what a free vote means,” he said.
Divorce ‘teachings protected’
Attorney-General George Brandis says the protection of religious freedom does not include “other interests” as he warned against creating a “new form of discrimination”.
“When we talk about the protection of religious freedom, we are talking about the protection of religious freedom, not other interests,” Senator Brandis told Sky News.
“We are certainly not going to remove one form of discrimination and at the same time instate a new form of discrimination.
“You can protect religious freedoms ads — our law does — without creating a new form of discrimination.”
It comes as conservative cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said Dean Smith’s bill was a “good starting point” but further religious protections needed to be added.
Senator Brandis noted divorce had always against the teaching of the Catholic Church.
“I’m a member of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church has always said it will not remarry divorced couples,” he said.
“Nobody has ever said that the Catholic Church shouldn’t be allowed to teach that according to Catholic doctrine and teaching that it won’t remarry divorced couples in a Catholic Church, so there is no inhibition on churches at the moment in teaching what their view, according to what their faith and doctrine of marriage means.
Date-stamped: 2017, November, 14. | Time-stamped: 9:26 am | Author: Greg Brown | Article Title: Same-sex marriage: discriminatory bill won’t get through, Malcolm Turnbull says | Article Link: theaustralian.com.au