Australians should have the right to express "completely and utterly dopey" opinions under new religious freedom laws, Barnaby Joyce says.
The federal Nationals MP used rugby star Israel Folau's sacking as an example, saying his religious views should only be an issue if his ability to perform at work was affected.
"I think a lot of what Israel Folau said is just completely and utterly dopey. But it's his right to be dopey," Mr Joyce told ABC Radio National on Monday.
"If you're employed to hit a golf ball and you believe if you jump over a broomstick you go to the fairy garden at the bottom of the hill then that is your belief.
"It's got nothing to do with how you hit a golf ball."
Mr Joyce said people had a tendency to temper religious statements in the workplace and other social settings.
"We've got people who are a pain in the arse and they're in every office, but we can't just go around sacking them because they're annoying," he said.
"If someone is a complete and utter dill, then they're going to find themselves socially isolated and out of the job."
The ex-deputy prime minister attended a workshop for coalition MPs on the proposed religious freedom legislation on Friday.
More than 20 MPs were at the session hosted by Attorney-General Christian Porter when Mr Joyce talked about the nexus between someone's beliefs and their job.
"The goal is to not discriminate," he said.
"If you're gay you should not be discriminated against. If you have strong religious views, you should not be discriminated against."
Equality Australia warned anti-discrimination laws should be a "shield, not a sword".
The LGBTQI+ rights group said the government's proposal appeared to prevent employers from being able to protect their businesses.
"It is imperative that we see the Bill the Attorney-General is referring to," said Lee Carnie, Equality Australia's legal advocacy director.
"This drip feed of incomplete information is causing panic for the communities who could be targeted by this law, such as single mums, divorced people, women and LGBTIQ+ people."
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia over an online post in which the ex-Wallaby paraphrased a Bible passage saying "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.
The committed Christian argues he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds, and is seeking $10 million in damages from Rugby Australia and wants his contract reinstated.
Australian Associated Press