Listen: Stephen O’Doherty in conversation with Martyn Iles and Mark Spencer
Christian groups are disputing claims that a Liberal Private Member’s Bill redefining marriage comprehensively protects religious freedom.
The release of the draft bill came just 24 hours before a special Liberal Party Room meeting — a meeting that will be something of a watershed on the Marriage Equality issue.
Liberal MPs will be asked on 7 August to endorse the existing policy for a plebiscite on same sex marriage, and if so whether it should be a postal plebiscite.
Some within the Liberal Party have been expressing frustration that the same sex marriage issue is contributing to a sense of paralysis and affecting the standing of both the Coalition Government and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The special party meeting was called by the Prime Minister in an attempt to get commitments to a clear way forward from MPs, some of whom are threatening to cross the floor and bring on a Private Members Bill to amend the Marriage Act without a plebiscite.
The issue is being seen as a test of the PM’s authority.
The appearance of the draft Private Members Bill has put some much-needed detail on the table.
The Bill was released by Liberal Senator Dean Smith, with four lower house Liberal colleagues in support. They have not ruled out crossing the floor.
On Open House we took the earliest opportunity to scrutinise the Bill, and found that despite the claims, it falls far short of providing protection for Christian organisations.
Open House spoke with Martyn Iles of the Human Rights Law Alliance and Mark Spencer of Christian Schools Australia.