Law Society of Tasmania 'deeply concerned' about religious freedom bill

The Law Society of Tasmania has added its voice to the chorus of concern that the proposed federal religious freedom bill could undermine Tasmania's strong anti-discrimination legislation.

Outgoing president Evan Hughes said the draft bill could create "inconsistencies" and "bolster" the rights of some at the expense of others.

"The Law Society of Tasmania is deeply concerned about how the bill will impact on our state legislation, which we consider to be one of the best examples of anti-discrimination legislation in action," he said.

"We don't want to see anything undermine that."

CONCERNED: Law Society of Tasmania president Evan Hughes. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

CONCERNED: Law Society of Tasmania president Evan Hughes. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

The Law Society of Tasmania raised these issues while helping develop the Law Council of Australia's submission to the draft religious freedom bill.

The bill was designed to protect people following their faith but the Law Council warned it had several new and unorthodox protections that placed freedom of religious expression above recognised human rights.

The Tasmanian government is also under fire for not making its own submission to the draft bill to help protect the state's existing laws.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson Charlie Burton said the state government "should be standing up for those vulnerable minorities whose legal protections are threatened".

"It should also be defending the right of Tasmanians to make our own gold-standard human rights laws without Canberra dragging us backwards," Burton said.

Attorney-General Elise Archer said the government was "giving careful consideration" to how the draft bull would interact with state law and she had discussed the matter with her federal counterpart "to ensure all Tasmanians are able to express their view reasonably and respectfully".

"Importantly, we believe any law must strike the right balance between providing protection from discrimination and unlawful conduct, while still allowing for the responsible expression of beliefs, public debate and discussion on important issues," Ms Archer said.

But Shadow Attorney-General Ella Haddad said the Premier was "too weak to stand up for Tasmania" and federal Liberals in Canberra were "giving Will Hodgman orders".

She said Tasmania's anti-discrimination laws "have protected thousands of people for more than two decades, including people with disabilities, the elderly, women, children and LGBTI Tasmanians".

"The Act also protects people from being discriminated against because of their religion," she said.

"Tasmanian Labor opposes the Federal Liberals proposed changes that would override Tasmania's anti-discrimination Act."

This story Law Society 'deeply concerned' about religious freedom bill first appeared on The Advocate.