Reason Leader and Member for Northern Metropolitan, Fiona Patten, will appear at the National Press Club in Canberra, 12:30pm Wednesday October 9, in a head-to-head televised debate against the Australian Christian Lobby’s Managing Director Martyn Iles.
The two will debate the Morrison Government’s proposed religious freedom legislation. Ms Patten is appearing in her role as Ambassador for the National Secular Lobby (NSL).
“Religious privilege has seeped into every nook and cranny of our political system – from minor parties to the highest levels of government,” Ms Patten said.
“Unlike all other discrimination Bills this one seeks to allow discrimination. In all states in Australia we have laws to protect people from discrimination and this Bill effectively overrides them all.
“Why? Where are the persecuted religious people in Australia? This Bill is not about further protecting them from persecution but allowing them to persecute others! In reality this Bill is about giving certain individuals the right to insult, ridicule, offend or humiliate others.”
Ms Patten said it was outrageous that religious organisations still received tax concessions, exemptions from discrimination laws and special treatment by the Government.
“Australia is supposed to be a secular society. Remember that little thing about separation of church and state? Well it isn’t working that well in my opinion,” she said.
Ms Patten has a long history of fighting for secular values and has been a driving-force in the Victorian Parliament for changes in this area, such as her push to have the daily recital of the Lord’s Prayer removed from Victorian Parliament and replaced with a moment of quite personal reflection.
“Members could still pray – just to themselves,” Ms Patten said.
“As the Government seeks to enshrine more religious protections into law, it’s important to remember that the majority of Australian’s are non-religious or identify as non-practising. People who want these protections are actually the minority.”
You can find more information about the National Press Club debate here.
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To organise an interview with Fiona Patten, please phone Kaitlin Bartlett directly.
Media Contact: Kaitlin Bartlett
Phone: 0432 294 500