In submissions to a federal inquiry on freedom of religion, various Christian groups have highlighted foreign cases where people have been prosecuted or sued for knocking back gay marriage business.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) said that changing the definition of marriage would have an impact on all church members, but especially “ordinary parishioners trying to live their Catholic faith in their daily lives”.
“In the face of growing intolerance of religious or other conscientious beliefs … it is very likely that people of faith will suffer discrimination and vilification of various kinds for holding fast to the traditional understanding of marriage,” the ACBC submission said.
￼The bishops said that the issue was not about rejecting services to someone because of their sexual orientation.
“The issue is a profound disagreement about the nature of marriage, and whether those who disagree with same-sex marriage wish to endorse someone else’s activity or belief by providing marriage counselling and preparation, a wedding reception venue, or some other support for a ‘same-sex wedding’ ceremony or celebration,” the submission said.
The Victorian branch of the Australian Christians Party said there were many overseas precedents of businesses being prosecuted for declining to provide services for same-sex weddings on religious or conscience grounds.
“If marriage were so redefined (in Australia) it would expose people and organisations to the risk of complaints under state and territory anti-discrimination laws if they express their view of marriage,” its submission said.
￼The bid to introduce same-sex marriage in Australia has stalled after the Senate rejected the Turnbull Government’s proposed plebiscite on the issue.
Federal Parliament’s joint standing committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade is conducting the inquiry.