Media release: Labor should protect women by rejecting ‘disastrous’ bill

Meredith Doig / 29 March 2021

The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) is urging the federal Labor Party to stand up for women at its Special Platform Conference this week by rejecting the Morrison government’s Religious Discrimination Bill.

Dr Meredith Doig OAM, the President of the RSA, says she is concerned that Labor is considering supporting the pending legislation even though it will have a disastrous impact on women.

As outlined by the #DontDivideUs campaign, women will be among the groups disproportionately negatively affected by the expansion of religious privileges being proposed in Christian Porter’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill.

The legislation, if passed into law, would be a major setback for women’s access to reproductive healthcare.

It would empower front-line health professionals to put their personal religious views before a woman’s right to access services such as contraception, fertility treatment, or timely and non-judgemental access to abortion.

Women would also face greater difficulty in utilising faith-based services and in gaining and holding employment at faith-based organisations.

Faith-based services providers could, for example, turn away women seeking support in domestic violence cases if they do not share the faith of the provider.

A newly divorced woman working in a religious school could be sacked because of her marital status or for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock.

Dr Doig says the Special Platform Conference, being held on 30-31 March, provides Labor with the perfect opportunity to show that it is prepared to take a strong stand for women at the upcoming federal election.

“The Religious Discrimination Bill would be a disaster for women right across Australia. It would entrench the sort of backwards-looking morality favoured by traditionalist religious clerics who think women should serve but not lead, listen but not speak, and stay in their God-ordained place. If the Labor Party were looking closely at the impacts on women, it would not hesitate in rejecting the bill,” she says.

“Several provisions in the policy document that Labor is taking to the conference seem positive for female voters. But these would be meaningless if Labor were to support Christian Porter’s Religious Discrimination Bill.”

The RSA has always supported a standard discrimination law protecting people against discrimination on the ground of religion or non-religion.



Dr Meredith Doig OAM

0403 246 544





The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) is the oldest freethought group in Australia, promoting reason since 1906. Members and supporters hold that all significant beliefs and actions should be based on reason and evidence, that the natural world is the only world there is, and that answers to the key questions of human existence are to be found only in that natural world.

RSA supports, along with a number of freethought organisations, is supporting the #DontDivideUs campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill.


Photo credit: Joel Muniz (Unsplash)

All the more reason.