Australian Religious Freedom Bill destined from the beginning


The promise to legislate the protection of religious freedom was seen as an important commitment of the coalition during the 2019 election campaign.

The case of Julian Porteous, Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop, brought to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission, protects people of faith simply because he approved the distribution of a booklet outlining the Church’s position on traditional marriage. This country needed to reveal some action to do. But while the promise to protect religious freedom was probably made with the best intentions, it was always destined to fail.

August Zimmermann Australian person The bill was unable to solve all or most of Australia’s religious freedom issues. He said the proposed bill could still be interpreted in such a way as to allow the state to take action against religious leaders over the public dissemination of doctrines that offend people. Stated.

and Parliamentary submission Regarding the December 2021 bill, the Institute of Public Affairs Morgan Beg added to the role of faith by seeking a court ruling on the “doctrinal, doctrine, belief, or teaching” of any religion. He pointed out that it was to weaken. And the religion of our society.

As Beg said:

“Requesting a secular court to make an assessment of religious beliefs means a reversal of the separation of the church and the state, which defines religion and which religious practices or beliefs are legal. It will give the court an improper role in deciding what to do. This is an inevitable result of secular law invading religious territory.

“This is a dangerous threshold. Once a court is involved in a decision on the legitimacy of a religious belief, there is no limit to how much a secular state can mandate religious issues.”

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Bishop Julian Portias (2L) is leading the congregation in prayer to commemorate the canonization of Mary MacKillop at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, on October 17, 2010. (SergioDionisio / Getty Images)

The basic problem is that legislation was seen through a prism of discrimination, not fundamental freedom. Broadly speaking, under the bill, religious groups would have been “exempt” from the Anti-Discrimination Act.

As Zimmermann It pointed out, This was the wrong approach. In this score, he quoted Michael Sted, Bishop of the Anglican Church in South Sydney. He states: The right they want is to publicly express their beliefs and prevent them from being involved in anti-discrimination laws. “

In Sted’s view, the Morrison administration should have kept the debate away from discrimination.

No reforms should use the word of discrimination, but in reality Australia is in line with Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on international human rights obligations to protect religious freedom. I am making things.

In addition, the government needs to protect not only religious freedom, but also freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of association, and the right to peaceful assembly. These rights are also set out in the ICCPR.

There is a reason for this. These are all basic freedoms and therefore intertwined. In fact, in Evans v. New South Wales (2008), the Supreme Court of the Federal Court said, “Religious beliefs and doctrines often attract public debate and sometimes have political consequences reflected in government law and policy.” Declared.

According to the more forgiving and inclusive values ​​of our democratic society, discussions should not be prohibited. On the contrary, sound liberal democracy relies on the members’ integrity to tolerate and disagree with public debate in speech that may be offensive to them.

Australia is a society in which people of different faiths and those without faith must develop ways to relate to each other and live together. That is why everyone should avoid being “unpleasant” in lively conversations about religion.

Indeed, the idea that any group should be protected from criticism is completely unrealistic for freedom of speech, which is the basic lesson of all free and democratic societies and against totalitarianism. Essential protection.

In fact, freedom of speech was described by Enid Campbell and Harry Whitmore in 1966 as “freedom of excellence.” Without it, other freedoms cannot survive. “

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will talk about pandemic management at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia on February 1, 2022. (RohanThomson / Getty Images)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison must remember that it is impossible to protect the group’s non-angry rights without seriously infringing on the rights of others who strongly oppose it.

But unfortunately, there were some statements from the Prime Minister that made little contribution to maintaining the sacredness of freedom of speech.

According to Morrison, “Freedom of speech does not create one job, open one business, or give anyone an extra hour. Make homes more affordable or energy. It doesn’t make it more affordable. “

And there is a problem there.

Without prioritization, it’s difficult to actually do something. It explains why the government went wrong in trying to protect religious freedom and why the bill was destined from the beginning.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Rocco Roiacono


Rocco Loiacono is a senior lecturer and translator from Italian to English at Curtin University Law School in Perth, Australia. His work on translation, linguistics, and law is widely published in peer-reviewed journals.

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