An extraordinary proposal from the Northern Territory government to introduce the tightest restrictions on free speech and freedom of religion is a blueprint for the types of laws which would follow a change to the marriage law, the Coalition for Marriage said today.

In its discussion paper about possible changes to anti-discrimination laws, the Northern Territory government has foreshadowed the most extreme limitations on freedoms in the country.

The paper not only contemplates the extension of vilification laws to include the prohibitions against offending or insulting a person – similar provisions to those that saw Catholic Archbishop of Hobart taken to the Anti-Discrimination Commission for releasing a pastoral letter on marriage – but also seeks to place further restrictions on clubs and associations, and remove protections for religious freedoms as well.

“This discussion paper is a blueprint for life in a genderless society, and confirms the fears of those who are worried about the implications of taking gender out of marriage,” said Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton.

“The Australian public is being told that their freedoms won’t be affected with a change to the marriage law, but already the Northern Territory is positioning itself to take away protections of speech, religion and association.

“If this is what anti-discrimination law is shaping up to be now, how much more draconian will it become if the law changes?

“In countries where the law on marriage changed, freedoms started to disappear very quickly and this discussion paper shows just how easily this can happen with an activist government.

“The only way to protect essential freedoms is to vote ‘no’.”