Weekend Wrap for 20 March 2021
In a week dominated by the March 4 Justice, we welcome you to another NSL Weekend Wrap, summarising the latest Australian secular-related news and views.
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
Kenja Communications, a spiritual self-help group whose late founder was the subject of numerous sexual assault charges, has become the only Australian organisation refusing to join the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse after invoking Attorney-General Christian Porter’s position on such historical allegations. (SMH)
The Vatican doctrinal congregation has confirmed that although some church communities had promoted "plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex", any form of blessing of same-sex unions is "illicit". (Catholic Weekly)
Concerns continue to be raised about the issues facing LGBTIQ seniors who become residents at aged care facilities operated by faith-based groups, which represent almost a quarter of residential care places in Australia. (ABC News)
ASIO will no longer use terms such as "rightwing extremism" and "Islamic extremism" in describing violent threats, reorganising threats into "religiously motivated violent extremism" and "ideologically motivated violent extremism” categories... (The Conversation)
...but Labor MP and counter-terrorism academic Dr Anne Aly says the timing of ASIO's rebranding is suspect, after various members of the Morrison government cried foul over ASIO’s use of the term "right-wing terror" to label violence committed by white supremacists and fascists. (The New Daily)
Christian aid groups have applauded the decision for Australia to send 8,000 vaccines, as well as personal protective equipment and medical specialists, to help Papua New Guinea's fight against COVID. (Eternity News)
Around the Country
NSW: A pilot program about antisemitism is set to be rolled out to 10 Sydney Catholic school within the next few weeks, with plans to expand the program nationwide. Jewish leadership groups have also been working with the NSW Department of Education on developing a broader anti-racism and anti-discrimination syllabus for public schools. (Australian Jewish News)
SA: Debate has begun in SA's upper house on the state's 17th attempt in 25 years to introduce voluntary euthanasia laws. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill is modelled on similar legislation passed in Victoria. (7 News)
WA: Following the WA Labor Government's recent election win, LGBTIQ advocacy group just.equal are calling on Premier Mark McGowan to set a timetable for law reform on issues such as conversion therapy and discrimination. (Out in Perth)
NT: In a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has called for Scott Morrison to restore the NT’s right to vote on euthanasia and to get rid of the longstanding law that treated Territorians like "second-class citizens". (NT News)
QLD: The Noosa Temple of Satan has asked the Speaker of the Queensland Parliament to cease the practice of imposing Christian prayers or face legal action on the grounds of discrimination.
TAS: A Hobart man who was wrongly denied senior next-of-kin status by the Coroner after the death of his same-gender partner six years ago has had his case turned down by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal on the basis that the Coroner is immune from such complaints. (Out in Perth)
Commentary and Analysis
Neil Francis reveals that claims from anti-VAD groups that Victoria’s suicide rate has gone up due to the state's assisted dying laws misrepresent the situation. (Dying for Choice)
NSL Ambassador Luke Beck makes the argument that, in a parallel to UK case law, local governments in Australia who incorporate prayers into their formal meetings are acting unlawfully. (SAGE Journals; paywalled journal article)
Steven P. Millies examines the issues around some Catholics' unwillingness to accept COVID-19 vaccines developed via the use of fetal stem cells. (The Conversation)
Alastair Lawrie updates us on the progress of NSW One Nation Leader Mark Latham's Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020, "the worst attack on LGBTI rights in this country this century." (one we missed from last week!)
Patty Fawkner writes on the ascendency (or lack thereof) of women in the Catholic Church. (Pearls and Irritations)
That's it for another week!
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