Weekend Wrap for 18 July 2021
Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 18 July 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
Doctors who do not want to help the terminally ill access voluntary assisted dying should be made to declare their objection within 24 hours after Victorian patients were “obstructed” from accessing the scheme, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. Legislation before Queensland’s parliament gives doctors the right to refuse to provide information about VAD or participate in the scheme, but they must refer the patient to another doctor. (The Australian)
An architect of Indigenous reconciliation, Pat Dodson has called on Aboriginal health providers to boycott emerging voluntary euthanasia schemes or risk destroying the trust of their communities. (The Australian)
The Australian government has failed to accept two of five recommendations regarding LGBTQI+ rights, following the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva earlier this year. (Star Observer)
Is the pandemic causing more people to turn to religion? (The Age)
In international news, the European Union’s highest court has reaffirmed that companies in Europe can bar women from wearing headscarves on the job, a ruling that holds consequences for the balance between the freedom of religion and the rights of employers to apply policies requiring religious neutrality. (SMH)
Around the Country
QLD: Suffering Queenslanders seeking to end their own lives would not first need to see a specialist doctor, sparking fears among euthanasia opponents that families might go 'doctor shopping'. (Brisbane Times)
QLD: Queensland doctors have backed a push by churches to enshrine their right to refuse access to voluntary assisted dying at faith-based hospitals and aged-care homes. (The Australian)
QLD: The president of Queensland’s peak medical body has claimed that one-third of the state’s hospital and aged-care beds are at risk of folding if religious-run organisations are not given the right to refuse to allow assisted dying on premises. (The Australian)
QLD: Townsville Bishop Tim Harris continues to campaign against voluntary assisted dying after attending one of the seven public hearings currently being held across the state before Queensland MPs vote on the legislation. (Catholic Leader)
WA: The Perth Theatre Trust (PTT) initially denied an application from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) to hold an event at the publicly owned Albany Entertainment Centre, due to the political nature of the group. (ABC News)
WA: Christian conservative group FamilyVoice Australia has likened the West Australian government’s policy of refusing to lease its entertainment venues to groups with alternative views to the government to communistic ideology. (FamilyVoice Australia)
WA: Western Australian LGBTQIA+ advocates have announced their support for the Perth Theatre Trust (PTT) over their decision not to allow the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) to make use of their venues. (Out in Perth)
WA: The West Australian government has backflipped on its decision to ban the Australian Christian Lobby from hiring its venues, promising an overhaul of a controversial policy that barred organisations that did not hold its views from renting state-owned facilities. (The Australian)
WA: A freedom of speech expert says she could see what the WA government was trying to do with their venue hire policy but that it was the “wrong wording entirely” and the government needed to beef up laws in other areas to stop discrimination. (SMH)
WA: Ethnic groups and foreign policy experts are calling on the Perth Theatre Trust (PTT) to urgently review or scrap a policy that allows state-owned venues in Western Australia to reject hiring requests from groups "identifying with countries whose political status is unclear or in dispute". (ABC News)
WA: Western Australian based organisation True Identity, in collaboration with the Australian Christian Lobby, are pushing for the McGowan Government to resist introducing laws which would stop religious based counsellors from treating people for, what they describe as – unwanted same-sex attraction. Equality advocates however describe the practice as nothing more than “gay conversion therapy”, and have repeated their call for the McGowan Government to ban the practice as other states have. (Out in Perth)
VIC: Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli is facing dissent from within over ambitious plans to restructure almost 200 parishes across the city. In the wake of Australia’s clergy abuse scandal, Archbishop Comensoli has warned that the archdiocese had reached a “threshold” and could “sink into the sunset” without structural reform.
VIC: The Rationalist Society of Australia reports on more councils in which the standing ritual of Christian prayers are being challenged. (RSA)
Commentary and Analysis
Liberal Party senator Alex Antic has launched an attack on the ABC, writes Steve Bishop, branding it as a left-wing activist group undermining our society. (Independent Australia)
Humanists Australia CEO Dr Heidi Nicholl discusses the question on religion in the upcoming census. (SMH)
Noel Turnbull writes on religiosity, the census collection of religion data, and the Census21 campaign now currently being run by a group of Australian pro-secular organisations (including the NSL). (Pearls and Irritations)
Former Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox reflects on being the instigator for the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. (News of the Area)
Stephen Chavura writes that although Mark McGowan may have repented on the ACL's access to public venues, he has reminded us of the threat to religious freedom in Australia. (The Spectator)
The ACL doubles down on its criticism of Victoria's anti-conversion therapy laws. (ACL)
In light of "false media reports" claiming that the Australian Christian Lobby and a former gay activist, James Parker are taking a ‘gay conversion therapy road show’ around WA, ACL state organiser Peter Abetz 'sets the record straight'. (ACL)
Events and Advisories
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.
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. Related article
The Rationalist Society of Australia are running a webinar with Michael Dove, leader of the Census21 campaign, on 28th July, to present on how Aussies will have greater freedom in answering the religion question at next month’s census.
Watch the archived broadcasts of this week's public hearings on the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill.
Expressions of interest are now open for the Victorian Government’s LGBTIQ+ Taskforce, along with the Health and Wellbeing and Justice Working Groups. These groups ensure the Government is well-informed about LGBTIQ+ issues and shape policies and initiatives.
That's it for another week!
Until next time, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
Don't forget to add your voice to the #DontDivideUs campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill.
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!