Ian Thorpe Dives Head First Into The Religious Discrimination Bill Debate

Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe has joined the chorus opposing the Morrison government's proposed religious discrimination laws.

Thorpe has voiced his dismay over the move, and so has former High Court justice Michael Kirby.

Thorpe will express his concerns about the bill at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday --  he's worried about its impact on women, people with disability and LGBTIQ people.

Kirby, who is backing a new campaign against the bill called #DontDivideUs, believes all Australians could be worse off under the bill.

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"This is not a bill that protects Australians from discrimination on religious grounds. Instead, it actively facilitates intolerance and will work to divide rather than unite Australians," he said on Thursday.

"The government should heed the chorus of opposition to this law and abandon this ill-considered measure."

The draft laws are aimed at protecting people of faith from discrimination -- the proposal would allow hospitals to hire on religious grounds and give doctors the ability to reject procedures on the same basis.

Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe has joined the chorus opposing the Morrison government's proposed religious discrimination laws. (Image: Getty)
Former High Court justice Michael Kirby believes all Australians could be worse off under the bill. (Image: AAP)

Business and union groups have this week urged the government to amend the proposal, saying the bill could harm employees.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter described his controversial bill as a "shield" for believers of all faiths.

The bill has drawn criticism from all sides of the political spectrum as it has been revealed that Christians could be discriminated against, prompting questions even from conservative quarters.

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The Australian Christian Lobby is calling for the bill's restriction on "serious intimidation" -- which was explicitly mentioned in the bill -- to be removed.

In it's current form, the bill proposes that "a person cannot be found to have discriminated against a person under any anti-discrimination law for merely expressing their genuinely held religious beliefs in good faith", except when those statements of belief are "malicious, or that would, or are likely to, harass, threaten, seriously intimidate or vilify another person or group of persons".

Conservative Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has also spoken out against the proposal, saying no bill would be better than the government's "flawed bill".

Thorpe joins advocate heavy weights Lauren Jackson AO, Head of Women in Basketball Australia,  and renowned author and journalist Benjamin Law in the push against the bill.

The new #DontDivideUs campaign has been launched by the Rationalist Society of Australia, the Atheist Foundation of Australia, the NSW Rationalist Association, Humanists Victoria, Sydney Atheists, the Council of Australian Humanist Societies, the National Secular Lobby and the Australian Skeptics.

With AAP