Catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country in the NSL Weekend Wrap for 22 May 2021.
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At the National Level
The Department of Defence has ordered a stop to morning teas promoting inclusion and diversity within the ADF. Australian Catholic University historian Noah Riseman, who has written two books on Defence Force culture, has spoken out against the move. (ABC)
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has released a letter stating they "respect the rights of all established faiths to have their religious observances respected," and that the NSW Kirpan stabbing incident reflects more on the environment faced by children and that it "...should not be sensationalised to the point of marginalising or offending a peaceful faith community."
The group Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying has urged religious groups opposed to VAD reform to stop using words such as ‘suicide’ and ‘killing’ in the debate on legislation. (Rationalist Society)
The Christian "campaigning think tank" group Freedom For Faith has announced a Religious Freedom Weekend from June 11-13, to bring attention to the 'weak protection' of religious freedoms in state laws.
Two years after a controversial exit from the NRL over his posts on social media, Israel Folau is making a fresh comeback bid with the backing of billionaire and former politician Clive Palmer. (Star Observer)
Around the Country
NSW: A ban on all knives, including religious knives, following an incident at Glenwood High in Sydney's northwest, in which a teen boy allegedly stabbed another teen with a Kirpan, has led some Sikh leaders to say they're frustrated the ban was imposed without sufficient consultation with their community. (SBS News)
NSW: Members of Sydney’s Sikh community have defended their children’s right to bring ceremonial daggers to school, saying a ban would compromise their ability to observe their faith. (SMH)
NSW: NSW’s ban on Sikh students taking their ceremonial dagger into public schools has sparked an international furore and the Sikh parliament is calling on India’s external affairs minister and high commissioner to intervene. The ban has also made news among big Sikh communities in the United Kingdom and Canada, which warned it would lead to xenophobia. (SMH)
QLD: The churches operating Queensland’s biggest private hospitals and nursing homes have warned they will be forced to facilitate voluntary euthanasia for dying people under legislation to go before state parliament next week. (The Australian)
QLD: The Queensland Law Reform Commission VAD bill reveals the scheme will also be available to people living in border communities, such as Tweed Heads, or those who have moved interstate. People will be able to apply for exemptions to the residential requirements if they have a “substantial connection” to Queensland and on compassionate grounds. (The Age)
QLD: The state government will seek an exemption from federal law for doctors who use the phone or go online to discuss voluntary assisted dying with terminally ill patients. Flagged by the Queensland Law Reform Commission in a report on the state’s new draft VAD legislation, the move aims to shield medical practitioners from potential prosecution for using a “carriage service” to encourage suicide, a federal offence. (The Australian)
QLD: Draft right-to-die legislation in Queensland has widened the scope of euthanasia law, making “mental suffering” a ground for eligibility and providing earlier access to voluntary assisted dying for the terminally ill. (The Australian)
VIC: A special parliamentary committee report into the effectiveness of the state's anti-vilification laws has recommended, among other things, that the protected attributes of race and religion be expanded to include gender or sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. (Star Observer)
ACT: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says that reforms to better protect transgender, gender diverse and intersex Canberrans against discrimination will be explored over the coming year. (Canberra Times)
WA: Albany Baptist Church have removed online promotional materials for an upcoming event, which was suspected to have promoted LGBTQIA+ conversion practices. The church had posted information about an event, claiming that stories would be told by those “who have previously lived and identified as LGBTQ+ but who are now finding new life in Jesus Christ.” (Out in Perth)
VIC: A Greens Yarra City councillor has been accused of starting an altercation with another woman outside a gay club in South Yarra, allegedly exclaiming “Allahu Akbar” and vowing to “make sure all these faggots die”. (SMH)
Commentary and Analysis
Meredith Doig, president of the Rationalist Society of Australia, appeared in a radio interview on ABC Illawarra speaking about the discriminatory nature of the National School Chaplaincy Program (the NSCP) (about 1hr 4min in). (ABC)
Ben White and Lindy Willmott from the Australian Centre for Health Law Research write on the progress of Queensland's VAD laws and how the proposed legislation differs from other states'. (The Conversation)