The Catholic Weekly 4 October 2020

$2 [There] is a real and ever-growing problem that people in Australia are, more and more, using the mechanisms of the legal system to oppress people of religious faith.” Sophie York MEMBERS OF the public overwhelmingly support ex- tending anti-discrimination laws in New South Wales to protect religious believers and organisations, a parliamenta- ry report has revealed. More than 19,000 peo- ple responded to an online questionnaire which was the main method for assessing the public’s views on the An- ti-Discrimination Amend- ment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 , a private members bill introduced by Mark Latham MLC on 13 May and referred to a Joint Select Committee inquiry in June. In New South Wales it is legal to discriminate against a person on the basis of their religious beliefs or activity, in- cluding by refusing to provide them with goods, services or accommodation, simply on the basis of their beliefs. Nearly 70 per cent support- ed the bill, with almost six per cent wanting changes but supporting the bill’s intention overall. According to the prelimi- nary report on the question- naire just over 25 per cent of people opposed the proposed law, while less than one per cent of responders said they were undecided. Mr Latham said he was surprised but grateful for the impressive level of support for the proposed law. “Nearly 20,000 people is a big number in an environ- ment where people don’t of- ten say what they think about politics,” he told The Catholic Weekly. “But they have said very clearly that they want this bill, and they see very clearly the need for these protections which are long overdue.” Archbishop Anthony Fish- er OP said that the strong, positive response to the bill demonstrates how impor- tant religious freedom is to people in the state and how concerned they are about be- ing discriminated against be- cause of their religious belief or activity. “People of faith have wait- ed far too long to receive the same protections against dis- crimination that others en- joy,” the archbishop said. “This isn’t about special treatment, it is about equal treatment. “I am pleased that so many Catholics in Sydney and across NSW spoke up in fa- vour of these laws, and I hope their voices are heeded by their elected representatives.” The bill aims to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Thousands back bill Submissions ondraft Lathamlawoverwhelminglydemandprotection for religious faiths, individuals ¾ ¾ Marilyn Rodrigues WHEN A former armed robber meets the prison priest, he’s just looking for another easy hustle … instead what he finds is a second chance at life. In his only Australian inter- view, Jim Wahlberg, brother of Hollywood actor Mark, talks exclusively about his journey from a life of addiction to one of redemption and howa once- in-a-lifetime meeting with Mother Teresa saved his life. “In a couple of weeks I went from facing nine years in pris- on with very little hope of a fu- ture to going to Mass, meeting Mother Teresa and finding faith in unexpected places,” he said. “If I can use the Wahlberg name to spread our message of faith then so be it, I knowGod’s not keeping score but I’ve sure got plenty tomake up for.” STORY ON PAGES 14-15 ¾ ¾ Debbie Cramsie AWahlberg mugged by God’s love 4, October, 2020 Looking for a new job? MAN DROUGHT? A NOTE TO WOMEN A BORN LEADER BOWS OUT P8 P22