The ACT's human rights laws provide better protection for religious freedom than the federal government's proposed laws, which would force the territory to consider its legal position, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says.
Mr Barr said in an appearance on ABC TV's Q+A program on Thursday night that the debate about religious freedom should not start with the premise of protecting the right of people to say gay and lesbian people needed saving.
"I don't need saving. Gay and lesbian people do not need saving. The starting point in this debate should not be that we are broken and that we need love or saving. Even by well-meaning Christians. Thank you very much," Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr also said the territory would need to consider its legal position if the Coalition's proposed religious discrimination laws were passed.
"We're in a constitutionally weaker position as a territory. We have a Human Rights Act and a Discrimination Act that provide excellent protection for people of religious faith but balance those rights, and ensure that everyone is equal before the law," Mr Barr said.
"That's the sort of Australia that I wanted to live in. And in my part of Australia, in Canberra, that's the law and we're all equal before the law in the ACT. That's how it should be everywhere."
Mr Barr also said he was sorry to hear the experience of Steph, a questioner on the program, who said she was sacked from a Sydney Anglican school after coming out as gay
"I'm just so sorry to hear that. That's terrible. Come and teach in Canberra. You are really welcome in our city. We will value you for who you are and the wonderful professional skills you could bring to our education system. I'm sorry you've discriminated against. It's terrible, it shouldn't happen," he said.
The panel - which included federal NSW Liberal MP Jason Falinski, company director and economist Melinda Cilento, journalist and documentary filmmaker Yaara Bou Melham, and theologian and pastor Michael Jensen - also discussed recent threats made against sitting politicians.
Mr Barr said he had been forced to deal with fixated individuals and stalking.
"It's amplified on social media. It's confronting. It does lead you to perhaps think twice about how you approach your job. I've had to learn to be a lot more resilient. You need a thick skin in politics, full stop. Things have crossed lines that are just not acceptable," he said.
Mr Barr said he had not experienced the type of threats levelled against other state premiers, including Victoria's Daniel Andrews and Western Australia's Mark McGowan.
"It has just [been] a confronting period. And we need to be unequivocal in saying this is not acceptable in Australia. And calling it out, no ifs and buts. I fear we're on the path that we've seen in the US and the UK. And that's not a place that Australia wants to be. And it happens to politicians on all sides of politics," he said.
"And I don't think it's good for our democracy and certainly not good for particularly the families of the politicians."
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Mr Barr also condemned Prime Minister Scott Morrison's comments about recent protests in Melbourne, which included effigies of politicians, a gallows and death threats made against the Victorian Premier, Mr Andrews.
Mr Morrison last week said there was "no place" for intimidation in public debate, urging civility and respect. But the Prime Minister also accepted many Australians were frustrated after two years of lockdowns.
Mr Barr on Thursday night said: "When it comes to the Prime Minister's comments, there was no room for a but in that. No level of frustration justifies threats to kill the Premier of Victoria. No level of frustration justifies that sort of outrageous behaviour. And it has to be called out. No ifs, no buts."
Mr Barr also said the federal government's proposed laws to require voters to provide ID at the ballot box was a "solution looking for a problem".
"It's the sort of tactics that are used in the US by conservative parties to suppress the vote. It's what it's all about. It's very, very clear," he said.
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