Weekend Wrap for 11 December 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 11 December 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

If you're not already following us on social media, please consider dropping by our Twitter page or Facebook page!

Do you have any news items, campaigns, petitions, webinars or other event notices that could be added to our weekly Wrap? Let us know at wrap@nsl.org.au.

At the National Level

The mother of the man who was raped as a child by pentecostal preacher Frank Houston “tried to dissuade” her son from publicly revealing the “sordid mess”, a Sydney court has heard. Another relative – a senior church pastor – told him he would be supported if he kept his complaint within the church but if he went to “the secular courts” he would be abandoned. (6 Dec 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

As the world marks the 74th anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the group Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) are calling on the Albanese government to bring in a Charter of Rights. The legal group highlight that Australia was integral to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but we’re still the only Western Democracy without a Charter of Rights. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) President Kerry Weste says Australians should be alarmed that our system omits a specific rights document. (10 Dec 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Around the Country

QLD: Under legislation introduced to the Queensland parliament on Friday, transgender people will soon be able to change gender markers on their birth certificates more easily.  Currently, people cannot update Queensland-issued birth certificates without having surgery on their reproductive organs, and there is no gender marker recorded on Queensland driving licenses or Proof of Age Cards. The new legislation will remove the requirement to undergo surgery in order to change the gender on a birth certificate. (4 Dec 2022)
Read more at SBS News

NSW: The Rationalist Society of Australia is seeking answers from New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard following claims that a public hospital in Sydney’s west has been displaying Christian crucifixes on its walls. A woman attending the Mount Druitt Hospital to undergo an operation said she was surprised to discover wall-mounted crucifixes throughout the facility, including in a reception area and in her ward room. (5 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

NT: Bishop Charles Gauci of Darwin has vowed not to give up after the Northern Territory government passed far-reaching legislation removing religious exemptions to the NT Anti-Discrimination Act. Now schools will be able to preference Catholic job applicants and staff only where being Catholic is a “genuine occupational requirement” such as in the case of principals and religious education coordinators. NT Attorney-General Chansey Paech said in his Second Reading Speech that the repeal of religious exemptions was designed to strike a balance “reflective of contemporary needs and the objective of our act to promote equality for all”. (6 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

VIC: Several siblings have been expelled from a faith-based school in St Kilda because their parents refused to sign a memorandum of understanding that limited who they could talk to about the alleged sexual abuse of their children. (6 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

WA: Western Australia’s Gender Reassignment Board has stopped accessing applications for gender change because the President of the board tendered his resignation. The recent review of the Western Australia’s Equal Opportunity Act highlighted the need for the existence of the Gender Reassignment Board to be reviewed. The Labor party committed to abolishing the body at its state conference in 2017, but despite being in government for almost five years has yet to take any action on the matter. (6 Dec 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

TAS: Jessica Hoyle, the Tasmanian woman who applied to have an exemption from Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws so she could hold a women’s event that barred transgender women, says she’ll take her case to the High Court. Hoyle said the decision was affecting same sex attracted people across the country. (7 Dec 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

WA: A West Australian school whose community voted to remove the religious requirement from chaplaincy now faces extra obstacles in employing a secular person for the role, including because of a lack of secular providers. Early this year, the school’s parents and carers voted overwhelmingly to make the taxpayer-funded chaplaincy positions subject to equal opportunity employment – meaning that they could no longer be only for people “of faith”. Rosemary Lynch, of the WA Public School Alliance, reveals that the Maylands Peninsula Primary School has been unable to fill the pastoral care role. (9 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

NSW: The transformation of NSW Palliative Care is underway, thanks to a major funding injection from the Perrottet Government, increased publicity from the euthanasia debate, and local advocacy, with Mater Hospital the latest facility to announce a multi-million dollar Palliative Care unit. The $35.3 million development at North Sydney will create a dedicated 12-bed unit, support services, consulting rooms, and a research and teaching centre. (9 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

ACT/NT: The final impediment to the nationwide victory of euthanasia has been removed after the Restoring Territory Rights Bill passed the Senate on 1 November. The Bill overturned the Howard-era Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, meaning the ACT and NT will now pass their own euthanasia laws. (9 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

Commentary and Analysis

Tania PenovicThe Fall of Roe v Wade, the US Anti-Abortion Movement and Its Influence in Australia.
"Australia's anti-abortion movement is significantly smaller than its US counterpart. But the US movement has been a source of support and strategic guidance since the 1970s and its discourses and tactics increasingly replicated in Australia. As the US movement expanded its international aspirations and reach, Australian branches of US groups have emerged." (10 Aug 2022 but published in the latest Alternative Law Journal)
Read more at SSRN

Mike SeccombeInside the Liberal Party’s 'existential crisis'.
"While religious belief and progressive politics are not necessarily mutually exclusive, within the Liberal Party they largely are. The religious right is a growing presence, and in a number of jurisdictions, notably Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, conservative churches have been implicated in branch-stacking." (3 Dec 2022)
Read more at The Saturday Paper

Monica DoumitBrutal reality of new NT law.
"This past week, we know that the Northern Territory parliament passed amendments to its anti-discrimination laws that were so controversial that the Catholic Bishop of Darwin, Bishop Charles Gauci, warned that it could result in the closure of Catholic schools. But why? What makes these laws so extreme that they would invite such a serious response? I’d like to explore this question by explaining just a few of the changes and how these will play out in practice." (8 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

Keiran HardyDoes Australia need new laws to combat right-wing extremism?
"At the National Press Club this week, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil flagged that Labor would propose changes to Australia’s counter-terrorism laws. She cited an increase in diverse threats beyond religious fundamentalism, a trend towards lone-actor, low-sophistication attacks, and more younger people being radicalised." (9 Dec 2022)
Read more at The Conversation

Events and Campaigns

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee is running an inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare. Public submissions can be made until 15 December 2022.
Read more at the Australian Parliament House website

Per a media release from the WA government, the McGowan Government has opened a four-week consultation period to provide input on the modernisation of Western Australia's abortion laws. Public consultation has opened and will allow women and other stakeholders to have their say on key issues via an online survey or emailed submissions. Submissions close 17 December 2022.
Read more at the WA Government Media Statements website

The Joint Standing Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme are holding an inquiry into the operations of the National Redress Scheme. Written submissions are due by Monday 27 February 2023.
Read more at the Australian Parliament House website

Have you faced discrimination at a religious school or organisation? Equality Australia wants to know!

Humanists Australia have launched a Change.org petition calling for full separation of church and state in Australia. View and sign here.

The Australian Education Union is running a campaign calling for “every school, every child” to receive fair education funding. Support the campaign here.

Funding for public schools has been cut in the latest budget but funding for school chaplains has been assured. A change.org petition is currently calling on the federal government to fund youth workers rather faith-based chaplains in our public schools.

The Human Rights for NSW alliance has launched a campaign calling for NSW to pass a Human Rights Act.

That's it for another week!

Until next time, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

And if you are able, please consider making a small monthly contribution to the NSL to help us raise the secular profile in Australia. Every dollar helps!