BILLS – Australian Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment (Selection and Appointment) Bill 2022 – In Committee Bills

As this amendment is alluding to, there is concern amongst various parts of our community that the Human Rights Commissioner, with a broad remit, doesn’t cover the detailed support for elements of our community, and the same concern has been raised by people of religious communities in Australia. Within the ICCPR, article 2 includes protection of people against discrimination because of their religious faith. Article 18 is specifically around having freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the ability to practise that with their community. Article 19 says that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. Article 22 says that they shall have the right of freedom of association with others. And article 27 may in fact be applicable to communities here now. For example, the latest census says that even the Christian community is now a minority. Article 27 says that, in states where ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, members of such minorities shall not be denied the right in community with other members to enjoy their own culture or profess and practise their own religion. As the government considers its response to those encouragements from the international community and the Human Rights Council to specifically legislate for religious freedom and protection from discrimination, will it also consider the appointment of a religious freedom commissioner?