Weekend Wrap for 12 May 2024

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 12 May 2024, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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At the National Level

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has launched a new guide that it says is designed to help Christians navigate LGBTIQA+ events like International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia. (IDAHOBIT). The list includes many days, weeks and months that are US based, and not usually marked in Australia. The ACL say they are “reclaiming the rainbow” as they launch a series of new initiatives about sexuality and gender. (6 May 2024)
Read more at Out in Perth

The national charities regulator has conceded that special exemptions given to the Basic Religious Charity (BRC) category of charities may be impacting public trust and confidence in the charities system. “Currently, BRCs are not required to provide any financial information. This means that 16.3% of charities on the Charity Register do not have information about their finances publicly available, other than the small number of BRCs that provide information voluntarily,” said ACNC Commissioner Sue Woodward. “This reduced transparency may impact public trust and confidence in the charity sector and slows our reactive and proactive compliance work. It also means that there are incomplete data about the charity sector available to users, such as other government agencies and researchers.” Late last year, the independent Productivity Commission recommended, in its draft report, removal of the BRC category in order to enhance “public transparency and accountability” in the charities system. (7 May 2024)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

Catholic Education Tasmania has written to Anthony Albanese urging him not to “enact laws that will divide us over religion” in the latest sign faith-based educators are uniting against new protections for religious institutions on grounds they will do more harm than good. Albanese’s draft legislation has proposed removing section 38 from the Sex Discrimination Act in a move that has ignited a fierce fight from religious schools and the Coalition. The exemptions at section 38 of the SDA allow faith-based educators to insist on staff and students adhering to the doctrines, tenets, beliefs and teachings of the religious school. They also allow schools to preference teachers when hiring on the basis of faith. (7 May 2024)
Read more at The Australian

Around the Country

NSW: A council in western Sydney has voted to “rid” its libraries of books that contain same-sex parenting material in a move that has outraged the mayor and local families. The motion at Cumberland City Council was passed six votes to five, and prompted an angry NSW government to threaten a review of its library funding. During the debate, former mayor and current councillor Steve Christou said Cumberland’s “religious and conservative” community didn’t want “controversial issues going against their beliefs indoctrinated into their libraries”. (7 May 2024)
Read more at The Age

QLD: Proposed anti-discrimination laws will stifle religious freedom and inflame "culture wars" within faith-based schools, a coalition of Brisbane religious leaders say. The Islamic College of Brisbane and Queensland Churches Together have voiced objections to a Queensland draft anti-discrimination bill that is before state parliament. The amended laws would ban schools from discriminating against staff on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, or political belief. Additionally, it would prevent schools from hiring discrimination on the basis of religious belief, unless the role explicitly involved teaching religious beliefs. (8 May 2024)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: A Four Corners investigation found courts have allowed permanent stays in several historical child abuse cases, where institutions such as Scouts NSW or the Catholic Church had argued too much time had passed to allow a fair trial. But late last year, the High Court overturned a permanent stay placed on one woman's historical abuse claim, finding it was wrong to suggest there could be no fair trial. NSW Upper House MLC Jeremy Buckingham, who will introduce a private members' bill to NSW parliament today, said the legislation seeks to enshrine that High Court decision into law. (9 May 2024)
Read more at ABC News

QLD: The Queensland education department claims to be unaware about breaches of the state’s discrimination laws in federally funded school chaplaincy roles, despite having been told on a number of occasions in recent years. While the new National Student Wellbeing Program (NSWP) has given schools a choice of hiring secular wellbeing officers or chaplains, applicants for chaplaincy roles must meet religious requirements to gain employment through religious service providers, known as Accredited Employing Authorities (AEAs). (9 May 2024)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

WA: The WA Liberal Party State Council has voted to approve doctor and local councillor Thomas Brough's preselection for the seat of Albany, despite his controversial comments about the LGBTQIA+ community not being in line with "the values of the Liberal Party". Dr Brough made comments at a council meeting in February, falsely claiming the community should be aware paedophiles, or what he dubbed "minor-attracted persons," were part of the "+" in LGBTQIA+. Perth Lord Mayor and Liberal candidate for Churchlands Basil Zempilas said after the party's state council meeting, Dr Brough would be the candidate representing the seat of Albany "as the best person for that job" despite his remarks. (11 May 2024)
Read more at ABC News

Commentary and Analysis

Graeme Watson: If Queensland can protect LGBTIQA+ teachers, why not WA?
"Queensland already has laws in place in to protect LGBTQ+ students, but this Bill would restrict schools from hiring and firing staff on the basis of faith, sexuality, marital status and gender identity, bringing it into line with Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT and NT. WA spokesperson for Just.Equal Australia, Brian Greig, said the Queensland move once again exposed the weakness of the West Australian Government to address this issue locally. “Attorney General, John Quigley, has repeatedly said he cannot move in this area until the commonwealth responds federally to the inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission. 'This excuse has always been untrue. The states and commonwealth have equal powers to legislate anti-discrimination law. The bill by Premier Miles in Queensland demonstrates this and shows the Cook government is not telling the truth.'" (7 May 2024)
Read more at Out in Perth

Kate Gleeson and Luke Ashton: Crisis of faith: why Australian women have so little trust in religious institutions
"The Albanese government is weighing up the costs of delivering an election promise to protect religious people from discrimination in Commonwealth law. Such protections were relatively uncontroversial when included in state anti-discrimination laws. However, the religious discrimination debate became toxic under former prime minister Scott Morrison when it became tied to the rights of religious schools to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ staff and students. ... Our new research report, Trust in Religion among Women in Australia, highlights some electoral realities relevant to legislating to protect religion in Australia today. Our findings present a bleak picture for religious organisations hoping to gain political traction based on trust in their ability to act ethically and responsibly." (7 May 2024)
Read more at The Conversation

Alex Wallace: The Gender Reassignment Board was one of WA’s true evils
"I think we as a community, particularly the trans and gender diverse folks, all agree that this bill doesn’t go far enough, and the broken promise of WA Labor to delay the other reforms is disappointing, upsetting and a danger to our community’s health and safety. But this bill is important, and while it really doesn’t bring us into line with the near gold standard states of Victoria and Queensland, the trans and gender diverse community does support it, and along with the intersex community, only our community should be having their opinions centred in this discussion, not our cisgender allies, queer or otherwise." (7 May 2024)
Read more at Out in Perth

Maya Newell: I’m no stranger to having work banned. If you want to protect kids, this is not the way to do it
"These bans come from a rightwing playbook designed to continue a culture war against LGBTQ+ people that chips away at fundamental human rights protections in policies. ... To censor, we cut off from one another and invite totalitarianism. When we restrict and control we fill our children with fear, and leave them ill prepared for the world they will inherit." (10 May 2024)
Read more at The Guardian

Events and Campaigns

Equality Australia is running a petition calling for Cumberland Council to reverse its ban on books depicting LGBTI families.
Learn more at Equality Australia

Griffith University researchers are exploring Registered Nurses’ and Nurse Practitioners’ willingness to participate in Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD).
Read more at The Lamp

Support Independent MP Kate Chaney's proposed laws dealing with the “telehealth problem” preventing access to timely voluntary assisted dying across the country. Contact your federal MP and senators here.

The Australia Institute are calling on federal parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech. View the petition at The Australia Institute

The Human Rights Law Centre are running a website for those who want to support an Australian Charter of Human Rights & Freedoms.
Visit the Charter of Rights website here

A change.org petition has been started, calling for churches to lose their tax-free status and for "the religious influence of churches in Australian politics and society" to be limited. It's currently up to 30,000 signatures. View the petition at change.org

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

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!

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