Weekend Wrap for 15 August 2021
Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 15 August 2021, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.
Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of the latest news on current issues, is also published on our Facebook page!
At the National Level
Almost nine in 10 Australians over 50 support voluntary assisted dying for people with terminal illnesses, and two-thirds continued to support VAD even if a person’s illness wasn’t terminal, a new survey finds. (The Australian)
Former English teacher Steph Lentz has gone public about being fired from Sydney's Covenant Christian School for being gay. “This discrimination is being funded by the taxpayer in the 21st century when broader society has said ‘this is not acceptable’." (The Age)
In a case that reveals that existing anti-discrimination laws do not offer any protection to LGBTQI+ people who work in religious schools, Covenant Christian School located on Sydney’s north shore sacked teacher Steph Lentz after she came out as lesbian. (Star Observer)
Equality advocates have welcomed Greens support for amending existing workplace discrimination laws to provide equal protection for trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians, but are unhappy neither major party has endorsed the reform. (Out in Perth)
just.equal Australia has welcomed support from Shadow Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones for counting LGBTIQA+ people in the Census. (Out in Perth)
Same-sex parents have been left distressed after being asked for details about their children’s mother and father in the census. (SMH)
The Pentecostal church run by controversial former tennis champion Margaret Court, Victory Life Centre, received more than $280,000 in jobkeeper in the three months to the end of June last year, even though its revenue ultimately barely decreased. (The Guardian)
Around the Country
WA: Western Australia on Thursday joined the rest of the nation in legislating protections for those attending family planning clinics. The legislation prevents picketing within 150 metres of abortion care clinics. (SMH)
VIC: The Andrews government has so far failed to honour an election pledge to stop religious schools discriminating against LGBTQ+ staff and students, who can still legally be sacked and expelled due to their sexuality. (The Age)
QLD: The Noosa Temple of Satan, formed in 2019 in defiance of the Australian government’s proposal for a religious discrimination bill, have made it to the Supreme Court in their fight for equality against Queensland’s Education Department. (SMH)
QLD: The state government is being challenged in the Brisbane Supreme Court for its refusal to let the Noosa Temple of Satan offer religious instruction at four state schools. (The New Daily)
NT: The chair of the parliamentary committee examining a bill to restore the NT's right to legalise voluntary euthanasia regards the practice as "state-sanctioned killing". (Canberra Times)
VIC: Victoria has announced it will decriminalise sex work, whether it be through self-employment, small employers, or large companies. (Junkee)
NSW: Hillsong founder Brian Houston has vowed to return to Australia to front charges of having concealed his father’s sexual abuse of a young boy in 1969 and 1970. (Daily Telegraph)
Commentary and Analysis
Paul Monk, a fellow of the Rationalist Society of Australia, comments on the labelling of the RSA and other groups involved in the Census21 campaign as “militant atheist” organisations with “an irrational hatred of religion” because they urged nonbelievers to tick “no religion” in the census. (The Australian)
Conservative Christian voices weren’t ignored in SA’s euthanasia breakthrough, there was just no capitulation to them this time, writes Laine Anderson. (The Advertiser)
The staff writers at the Catholic Leader urge Catholics to indicate so on the census and criticise the secular campaign to respond based on current religious practice. (Catholic Leader)
Two researchers at Griffith University comment on the decision by assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar not to include questions about LGBTI Australians in the census and the potential detrimental effects this could have on the LGBTI community. (The Conversation)
The Catholic Leader comments on a bill introduced by George Christiansen which would use federal constitutional power to override the states on late-term abortion cases in which babies survive. (Catholic Leader)
The ACL indicated its strong support for the George Christiansen 'children born alive' private members bill. (ACL)
Dr Megan Best, Associate Professor of Bioethics at the University of Notre Dame Australia, writes that "in the absence of an ethical vaccine (one that does not involve fetal cell lines at all), Australian Christians are encouraged to accept vaccination on grounds of loving their neighbour, and contributing to the public good." (Sydney Anglicans)
Events and Advisories
Register for the online event, Leader to Laggard: The case for modernising the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, hosted by PIAC Policy Manager Alastair Lawrie (16 August 2021).
Sign up to the #DontDivideUs campaign, currently being run by a group of pro-secular groups including the NSL, to act against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.
The Rationalist Society of Australia is calling on West Australians to contact their local members of the Legislative Council to urge them to replace the daily prayer ritual with something more inclusive.
The Noosa Temple of Satan is currently running a federal parliamentary petition to remove Christian prayers from parliament. The practice of reciting an exclusively Christian prayer discriminates against non-Christians. Petition closes 12 August. Related article
The Human Rights for NSW alliance has launched a campaign calling for NSW to pass a Human Rights Act.
Dying With Dignity NSW has a tool that makes it easy for people to contact their federal MPs and senators to request help in repealing the "Andrews Bill", the 1997 legislation which denies the Territories the right to pass legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying.
DwD NSW are also petitioning the NSW Parliament to work together to deliver voluntary assisted dying laws in 2021.
Visit the #QLD4VAD website to learn more about the campaign to introduce VAD laws into Queensland.
That's it for another week!
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