Weekend Wrap for 2 April 2023

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 2 April 2023, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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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 Liberal party cannot afford to “go into the margins” of political debate or rely on division in society, a key federal senator has warned, after the NSW election left the Coalition on the opposition benches in every mainland parliament. But other federal members of the opposition are urging the Coalition to further embrace conservative values and focus less on climate change, highlighting the challenge facing Peter Dutton as the Liberal and National parties continue searching for answers after election losses across the nation. (26 Mar 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

The Vatican has published new legislation that extends to lay leaders of Catholic organisations the existing rules for investigating bishops over sex abuse or its cover-up. Updated procedures for investigating sexual abuse allegations specify that leaders of international Catholic lay associations and movements have the same responsibilities over their members that bishops have over diocesan priests. One thing the updated version did not do, however, was provide mandatory and explicit steps for revealing publicly when a bishop has been asked to or forced to resign because of abuse or covering up abuse allegations. (27 Mar 2023)
Read more at the Catholic Leader

LGBTQ+ advocates are calling for stronger legal protections after a series of attacks against Australia’s queer community. This month neo-Nazis held a banner reading “destroy paedo freaks” at a rally in Melbourne attended by trans rights activists, and days later an LGBTQ+ group said they had been attacked by a mob while protesting outside a Sydney church. Every jurisdiction in Australia has various degrees of anti-discrimination legislation based on sexuality or gender in workplaces, schools and service settings, but advocates say they are patchy and have broad exemptions, especially for religious organisations. (30 Mar 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

Mark Latham's second controversy over LGBT issues in as many weeks has caused a split in One Nation, with federal senator Pauline Hanson admonishing his remarks as "disgusting". Mr Latham, the One Nation leader in NSW, posted and deleted a graphic and homophobic tweet, directed at comments by independent MP Alex Greenwich, on Thursday. It has sparked widespread condemnation, including from within his party, and comes just 10 days after queer activists were allegedly bashed outside one of his pre-election speeches. (31 Mar 2023)
Read more at ABC News

Around the Country

NSW: In an open letter to the Principals of the conservative Opus Dei Catholic schools, the group of alumni involved in the making of the Four Corners program, ‘Purity: An Education in Opus Dei’, say that many more alumni have come forward with similar allegations since the show went to air in January. The group also accuse Pared of failing to take steps to address the issues raised in the program. (25 Mar 2023)
Read more at Medium

NSW: Lyle Shelton, former head of the Australian Christian Lobby, has failed to gain a seat in the NSW parliament. Shelton stood as an independent candidate because his current party Family First is not registered in New South Wales. He previously stood unsuccessfully at the 2019 federal election for the Australian Conservatives. Prior to launching his political career Shelton headed the NO Campaign against marriage equality. He was head of the Australian Christian Lobby from 2013 until 2018. (26 Mar 2023)
Read more at Out in Perth

VIC: Benched Victorian MP Moira Deeming has walked back her condemnation of the organisers of a controversial anti-trans rally while planning her return to the Liberals. On Monday night she accepted her nine-month suspension after describing her rally attendance as an “error of judgement”. In an apparent walking back of her comments she later tweeted, “Don’t worry, I never condemned you, or KD, or KJ,” referring to rally organiser and anti-trans activist Angie Jones, British anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, and Katherine Deves, the former Liberal candidate for Warringah. (28 Mar 2023)
Read more at The New Daily

TAS: Independent member Mike Gaffney’s bid to remove prayer rituals from the Legislative Council of the Tasmanian Parliament has been thwarted, with a vote on whether to send the issue to a committee narrowly falling short. Instead of supporting Mr Gaffney’s original motion, the Legislative Council agreed to an amendment to refer the matter to the Standing Orders Committee. But, following a lengthy debate, members of the chamber voted 5-5 on the amended motion, meaning that it failed to gain majority support to go to committee stage. (28 Mar 2023)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

NSW: Faith groups are hopeful that the new NSW Labor government will invest in religious communities, with the Catholic Weekly reporting that members of the Coalition's new religious advisory council would continue in their roles under Labor. Labor has also reportedly committed to reviewing the current Anti-Discrimination Act within its first 100 days in government to include the need to address discrimination on the basis of religion. (29 Mar 2023)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

VIC: Jurors in the trial of former ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal Malka Leifer will return to court on Monday to continue deliberations for a ninth day. Leifer, 56, is accused of sexually abusing Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when she was head of religion and principal of the Adass Israel School in the city’s eastern suburbs between 2003 and 2007. (31 Mar 2023)
Read more at The New Daily

NSW: The Sydney state MP Alex Greenwich has vowed to reform laws in New South Wales to better protect the LGBTQ+ community after being brought to tears by a homophobic tweet from fellow parliamentarian Mark Latham. The powerful independent was the focus of an explicit tweet by Latham on Thursday morning that has been widely condemned, including by Anthony Albanese and the federal One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson. Speaking outside the NSW parliament on Friday, Greenwich said he did not expect to still be dealing with homophobia but the matter has made him more resolved in progressing LGBTQ+ rights in the state. (31 Mar 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

NSW: Gay men in New South Wales could have grounds to bring a complaint of homosexual vilification against Mark Latham over a tweet that saw him labeled a bigot by the premier and brought independent MP Alex Greenwich to tears, legal experts say. But University of NSW constitutional law expert George Williams said the One Nation state leader was unlikely to be sacked from his job. (1 Apr 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

Commentary and Analysis

Patricia Karvelas: Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull's anti-trans rights campaign has become a headache for the Liberal Party. But the issue runs deeper than one MP.
"Keen-Minshull organised a "Let Women Speak" tour of Australia and New Zealand, holding rallies in several cities to claim the push for transgender rights is 'silencing', endangering and discriminating against women. In doing so she has inserted herself into Australian domestic politics and unleashed a torrent of anger and division that will have far reaching consequences inside the Liberal Party and beyond, turbocharging a debate about what the party should stand for. There has been a lot said about Keen-Minshull and whether she is a warrior for women's rights or an extremist with views that are harmful to the transgender community. This week I examined many of her interviews recorded for various podcasts to get to the heart of what she is campaigning for and whether there may be some nuance in all of this." (26 Mar 2023)
Read more at ABC News

Annika Smethurst: Backflip on Deeming is a disaster for Pesutto.
"Driven by a desire to make the Victorian Liberal Party appear progressive and mainstream, he and his leadership team pushed ahead with the expulsion vote without questioning whether it would be supported by the party room. Their brash approach simply elevated the brand and amplified the views of anti-trans rights activists, who had rarely had much coverage away from the fringes. The backflip has only highlighted Pesutto’s vulnerability as leader and turned Deeming into a martyr in conservative circles." (27 Mar 2023)
Read more at The Age

Christopher Knaus: ‘It’s gutless’: clergy abuse survivors and their families outraged by legal stays that thwart cases.
"The Marist Brothers’ handling of the Francis Cable case is far from unique. The Catholic order had a policy of not referring abuse complaints to police between 1962 and 1993, and keeping them out of any written record until 1983. Now the same order is among a slew of church bodies trying to use the deaths of perpetrators like Cable to thwart civil claims filed by abuse survivors." (27 Mar 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

Lucy Hamilton: Nazis on our streets: don’t judge protesters by politeness.
"White supremacists use Christianity too to whitewash their ugly bigotry (just as other ethno-nationalists around the world are using their dominant faith). Christianity, like white men, is becoming challenged as the societal norm, and this shift is portrayed as being “under siege.” Thus loathing of Jews or Muslims can be depicted as an honourable defence of the Christian tradition. Old bigotries can be made pure by depicting an assault on women’s equality, or LGBTQI+ erasure, as obeying God’s laws (as the radicals define them). By depicting Queer existence or feminism as a threat to children’s welfare, the radical right can make themselves seem the protectors of the innocent." (28 Mar 2023)
Read more at the AIMN

Mark Jennings: “The only way I could please God was to reject my sexuality”: Stories of LGBTQ+ people in Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic churches
The idea of LGBTQ+ people participating, ministering, and leading in Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian churches may seem like the conjunction of mutually exclusive worlds. Yet it was my privilege to interview some of the extraordinary individuals who inhabit these two worlds for my book Happy: LGBTQ+ Experiences of Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity. If Australians today know anything about Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity (PCC), they likely recognise it as the faith of a former prime minister. Prior to his 'I believe in miracles' election victory in 2019, Scott Morrison was filmed worshipping PCC-style at his church — arms raised and eyes closed as music plays." (28 Mar 2023)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics

Lucy Hamilton: Victorian MLC Moira Deeming: the pretty face of a scary ideology.
"Deeming and [author J. K.] Rowling make it apparent in different ways that they don’t seem to care what damage is done to straight women alongside trans people. Deeming is an abortion abolitionist and deeply religious: she combines American religious right beliefs on sex-based divisions with the British faux-feminist fear-mongering about trans people. Rowling endorsed the work of American pundit Matt Walsh who is one of the most extreme trans exterminationist – and misogynist – figures on the American media’s right. For the right, the two hatreds are combined: feminism is the gateway, apparently, to the destruction of sex difference, family and the nation. LGBTQI+ rights are the extension of this asserted toxic divorce from tradition." (30 Mar 2023)
Read more at the AIMN

Events and Campaigns

Catch up on the RSA's latest webinar, featuring Dr Jennifer Bleazby speaking about the teaching of creationism being commonplace within religious instruction programs in Australian public schools.
Watch the webinar at the RSA's website

News Corp have begun a new podcast series, "Faith on Trial", investigating various stories relating to Hillsong, including alleged exploitation of staff, questionable treatment of Hillsong college students, and the trial of Brian Houston.
Listen to the podcast here

Reason Australia have started a new petition to remove prayers from Victorian state parliament.
Read and sign the petition at the Reason Australia 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!

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