Aussie PM promises bipartisan approach to protecting religious freedoms

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-03 11:03:51|Editor: Yang Yi
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CANBERRA, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared that he wants to work carefully on a bipartisan approach to protecting religious freedom in law.

The Guardian Australia reported on Tuesday night that Morrison, whose Liberal National Party Coalition was re-elected for a third consecutive term in the government in May, has invited Members of Parliament (MPs) from every party to attend workshops on his proposed changes.

During the election campaign, Morrison promised to introduce a bill that would make it unlawful to discriminate against people because of their religious belief, but has since said he wants to work with the Opposition Australia Labor Party (ALP) on the "personal" issue.

"I do not want religion to be an issue that divides Australians, it is deeply personal for people, I want to work through it in a way that enhances unity, not for political purposes," Morrison told MPs, according to the Guardian.

Members of the coalition in May pushed for a broader religious protection bill that would also give people the right to express religious opinions even if they breach an employment code of conduct.

However, Attorney-General Christian Porter in June ruled out the government support for such wide-ranging protection, instead saying it would introduce a "basic" and "largely uncontroversial" bill to the Parliament.

Morrison, a devout Christian, also intends to establish a new role for a freedom of religion commissioner within the framework of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Mark Dreyfus, the Labor's legal affairs spokesperson, welcomed Morrison's pledge to work together on the bill after Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Monday said he was open to supporting religious protections.

"Once Labor receives the legislation, we will consult widely and follow the usual decision-making processes." Dreyfus said.