Australian Hindus oppose Religious Freedom Bill amid fears of forced conversion

We oppose anyone calling Hindus idolaters, heathens and infidels.

Oped by Surinder Jain

A religious freedom bill has been introduced in the federal parliament to make discrimination on the basis of religion illegal. People of faith will not be discriminated against because of their faith or for not having one.

However, the bill has created many exemptions. It allows discrimination based on religion by organisations that are inspired by religious ethos, like schools, hospitals, aged care homes, employment agencies, charities etc. Any business that claims to be inspired by religious ethos can fire people who don’t belong to their religion.

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This bill adversely affects minority religions. It especially affects Hindus and other newly arrived religions that have not had time and resources to establish their own schools, hospitals etc.

Oppose “No jobs for Hindus Bill”

The bill permits a business to declare and have a religion. It permits that business to fire its employees who are of the wrong religion and give preference in employment to candidates of its own religion.

A large number of Hindus work in schools, hospitals, aged care and other charities run by Christian and other faiths. If this bill is passed, these Hindus can be and are likely to be actively  
discriminated against.

In practice, it means that Hindus working in other faith-based schools, hospitals etc. can be denied employment and existing staff can be fired.

A Hindu living in an aged care service of another religion will only be served by employees of the other religion as they won’t have to hire any Hindu staff.

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Oppose the Religious Conversion of Hindus Bill

Hindus do not seek to convert others but that is not the case with many religions. Some non-Hindu faith followers interpret their religion to mean that it is their duty to convert heathens and idolaters (Hindus included) while some interpret it to mean that the use of force against non-believers is justified.

This bill may lead to the abhorrent practice of forced conversion of Hindus to other faiths by luring them with jobs, admission of children into schools, treatments in hospitals and care in old age homes. And the Australian Government will continue to fund such religious institutes.

Oppose violation of Human Rights of Migrants, Unemployed, Students, Vulnerable and old people Practices listed above violate human rights of Australian Hindus and will adversely affect vulnerable Hindus including new migrants, unemployed, socially disadvantaged and senior citizens needing care.

Hindus being treated in hospitals or being cared for in an institute,  will not have someone who understands their culture and religious sensitivity. They may be surrounded by people who think this Hindu is going to hell and must be converted. And the Australian government  
will be using our taxes to fund such places.

Those holding a position of power like teachers, doctors, carers, helpers should not be permitted to do the mission work.

Oppose Hindus being called idolaters, heathens and infidels

The new bill permits statements of belief rights. In practice, it means that anyone can insult people of other religions and call them derogatory names and treat them as lesser human beings than themselves. In a civil society, this should not be permitted.

Oppose the introduction of religious apartheid in Australia

Australia made commendable progress when it replaced its racist Whites only immigration policy. But like a reformed drinker hitting the bottle again, it is now introducing a bill that will give undue advantage to the majority and well-established religions at the cost of  
newly arrived and minority religions.

The bill will permit a child to study and work their entire life in their own religious institutes, never coming in meaningful contact with people of other faiths.

We must oppose such apartheid of teaching, employment and services.

PLEASE CALL YOUR LOCAL FEDERAL SENATOR and MP and tell them that you  
want them to oppose this law when it comes to voting.

Author: Surinder Jain is Vice President of the Hindu Council of Australia.