TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Tasmania’s nation-leading anti-discrimination protections under threat

2 December 2021

TasCOSS is urging all Tasmanian politicians to stand up and speak out against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill currently before Parliament, which if passed will override Tasmania’s nation-leading anti-discrimination laws, cause considerable harm and division in the community, and put vulnerable children at risk.

TasCOSS CEO Ms Adrienne Picone said as the only state that protects its citizens from objectively humiliating, intimidating, insulting, ridiculing and offensive behaviour, Tasmanians have the most to lose if the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed.*

“The Religious Discrimination Bill would override these hard-fought for protections, allowing harmful statements in the name of religion,” Ms Picone said.

“The proposed bill would also have the biggest impact on Tasmanians living with a disability, who currently make up one-third of discrimination complaints, along with women, older Tasmanians and racial minorities.

“We support fair and equal discrimination laws, which protect us all equally, rather than laws which privilege the right to religious beliefs over other rights.”

Ms Picone said if it became law, the Religious Discrimination Bill could also jeopardise the jobs of hard working Tasmanians, potentially putting vulnerable children at risk and making it harder for everyday Tasmanians to access services.

“Allowing our state’s strong laws which protect against discrimination to be overruled would cause considerable harm in our community and undermine the strong culture of diversity and inclusion that Tasmanians have fought so long and hard to build,” she said. “For example, under this bill a support worker could tell their client their disability is a ‘punishment from God’.

“If passed, this bill would override existing Tasmanian protections against discrimination for people who work in faith-based schools. Of equal concern is the bill could allow for faith-based services to be denied to some clients.

“TasCOSS is calling on all Tasmanian politicians to contact their federal colleagues to highlight the disproportionate damage this bill would have on Tasmania if passed and urge them to vote against this bill.

“Let’s not allow our inclusive anti-discrimination protections, that Tasmanians have fought so hard for, to be overruled by legislation that doesn’t treat all Tasmanians fairly.”

* For more information, refer to section 17(1) of the Anti-Discrimination Act.

For more information or to arrange an interview with TasCOSS CEO Adrienne Picone, please contact: