Listen: Committee Chair Senator David Fawcett in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
The Chair of the Parliamentary Committee investigating marriage reform has confirmed that the committee had significant concerns about religious freedom if the law was changed to allow same sex marriages.
South Australian Liberal Senator David Fawcett chaired a cross-party committee that reported in February 2017 after reviewing an early form of draft legislation presented by the Attorney General George Brandis.
Senator Fawcett says that despite claims to the contrary the Commitee did not express support for same sex marriage.
He told Open House that the Committee found that Australia is under no obligation to legalise same sex marriage as it already provides the protections required for same sex couples under the international covenants to which Australia is a signatory.
However the Committee found that there is a “real gap” in Australia’s protection for the freedom of individuals to act in accordance with their religious convictions.
While religious organisations such as churches and faith based schools have some protection in the form of exemptions to certain aspects of state anti-discrimination laws, no such protections exists for individuals.
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Senator Fawcett believes that irrespective of the outcome of the postal survey on marriage those protections need to be strengthened.
On Open House we had a wide ranging discussion with Senator Fawcett about the marriage debate and the present and future challenges for religious freedom in Australia.