Weekend Wrap for 25 June 2023

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 25 June 2023, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

If you're not already following us on social media, please consider dropping by our pages on Twitter, Facebook and now Mastodon!

Do you know someone who might be interested in these stories? Use the "Forward this email to a friend" link at the bottom of the email.

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

Former prime minister John Howard has come out swinging in defence of Canberra’s Calvary Hospital, saying the ACT Government’s forced acquisition is a "blatant assault" on the principle of private ownership. He praised Calvary as a great example of Catholic provision of health care in Australia and criticised Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for not having the courage "to call out what the ACT Government is doing" in its compulsory acquisition of the hospital by passing legislation to sever its long-term lease "without any real justification." (19 Jun 2023)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

Around the Country

NSW: A new member of the New South Wales upper house who has Jewish heritage, Dr Amanda Cohn, has questioned the practice of reciting Christian prayers to open each parliamentary day and suggested the parliament must become more inclusive. The prayer issue could soon be debated on the floor of the Legislative Council, with a proposal for a committee inquiry currently on the Notice Paper. (19 Jun 2023)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

WA: WA's abortion laws are set for their first shake-up in a quarter of a century. Reforms aimed at streamlining access to abortion and bringing the laws into line with other states have been introduced into parliament this week. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson says the changes are mostly about making it easier for women to access abortions earlier. (21 Jun 2023)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: NSW crossbencher Alex Greenwich has notified parliament of his new proposed equality legislation. The Independent member for Sydney said the reforms included banning gay conversion practices, allowing transitioning without surgery and giving protection to intersex children from sterilisation. The three bills Mr Greenwich plans to introduce are the Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill 2023 and the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023. (22 Jun 2023)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: The Principal of Sydney’s prestigious Scots College has apologised for homophobic comments made by a visiting pastor during a recent school assembly. Principal Ian Lambert issued the apology after multiple students and staff raised concern about the content of a speech delivered by Presbyterian Reverend David Maher. In April, the school was also forced to deny it would be asking students about their sexual history after their governing body, the Presbyterian Church of Australia, wrote a submission to a government inquiry about the need for religious schools to be able to discriminate against gay students saying that students who were homosexual would not be suitable for leadership roles. (23 Jun 2023)
Read more at Out in Perth

NSW: NSW parliamentarians have been criticised for speaking at a forum of anti-trans campaigners held at Parliament House this week, including a government MP who labelled pushback against their campaigns as “totalitarian”. On Thursday, NSW parliament hosted a forum organised by the Liberal Democrat MP John Ruddick and emceed by failed federal Liberal candidate Katherine Deves. The event heard from former Victorian Liberal Party MP turned independent Moira Deeming, as well as well-known figures in the anti-trans movement. (23 Jun 2023)
Read more at The Age

WA: Liberal MP Dr David Honey has been appointed chair of a new WA parliamentary committee tasked with scrutinising the legal tactics used by some state, religious or other institutions in compensation claims by survivors of child sexual abuse. The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee will also look at the response of government and non-government institutions to those claims and how efficiently courts deal with those cases. Changes brought in since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse were supposed to make it easier for survivors to pursue their abusers in the courts but lawyers have indicated that these attempts are being foiled. (23 Jun 2023)
Read more at ABC News

QLD: Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has suggested to the Christian community that sharing their 'hope' from God with the community can help address the problem of homelessness. In a speech about homelessness to an audience of Christians at the Lord Mayor's Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Mayor Schrinner argued that, while governments had a role and more money was needed in tackling homelessness, "in the end it is about that fundamental principle of giving people hope". Mayor Schrinner has drawn controversy in the past for ignoring community calls – and an 800-strong petition in 2020 – for the Brisbane City Council to remove the recital of prayers from the opening of its meetings. (24 Jun 2023)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

Commentary and Analysis

Paul Gregoire: As Christian Thugs Rally in Newtown Yet Again, Leong Assures That Diversity Will Prevail.
"Christian Lives Matter descended upon Newtown again, about a week back, on a Friday night. The rally was just a bunch of neofascist Christians gathering in public to vocally share their social hangups about some people not having sex in the same way they do or for dressing unconventionally. ... The most bizarre aspect to CLM and other far-right groups like them is that they seriously consider that there’s a left-wing conspiracy attempting to turn their children into trans individuals, and they further believe this 'project' is such a threat that they must proactively stamp it out. ... These transphobic and queerphobic groups have been empowered to appear on the streets of late, due to the rising ultraconservative rhetoric of certain members of parliament, with the chief culprit on Macquarie Street these days, being NSW One Nation MLC Mark Latham." (20 Jun 2023)
Read more at Sydney Criminal Lawyers

Peter O’Keeffe: Calvary Hospital acquisition may open new horizons.
"After the 2008 deal collapsed, the Vatican, in 2009, made arrangements to place any future sale of Calvary beyond reach. The LCM’s Calvary Public Hospital became a Catholic Church asset, a religious presence in the public square. Instead of LCM sisters fronting the media saying this is our hospital, how dare you, we have the Catholic Church telling us, this is our Catholic hospital. Peter Dutton gave the game away when he condemned the ACT government for “little consultation or contact with the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn who have successfully operated this facility for decades…” (Canberra Times, May 31, 6). Australian States and Territories, as well as other countries, are watching the unfolding drama of the compulsory acquisition of Calvary with great interest, and are likely coming to firm conclusions about the risks and benefits of being shackled to the Catholic Church in the delivery of essential services of any kind, let alone something as vital as hospital health care." (23 Jun 2023)
Read more at Pearls & Irritations

Paul Gregoire: Once a World Leader in Transgender Law, NSW Now Sadly Lags Behind All Other States.
"Queensland enacted the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2022 (Qld) on 14 June. This legislation replaced a two-decade-old Act of the same name, due to the fact that times have changed, the document’s explanatory memorandum sets out. Indeed, in outlining the key objectives of the legislation, the strengthening of 'the legal recognition of trans and gender diverse people' is at the top of the list. ... The Transgender (Anti-Discrimination and Other Acts Amendment) Act 1996 (NSW) was a groundbreaking piece of legislation on a global scale, which added transgender as a protected attribute to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). ... 'Sadly, NSW, while first to legislate against discrimination against transgender people back in 1996, now lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to recognising sex identity as self-determined.'” (23 Jun 2023)
Read more at Sydney Criminal Lawyers

Events and Campaigns

Equality Australia are running a petition calling on the Federal Government and all remaining states and territories to remove unnecessary legal carve-outs for religious schools and organisations and ensure laws protect everyone equally.
Read and sign the petition at Equality Australia

The Human Rights Law Centre are running a website for those who want to support an Australian Charter of Human Rights & Freedoms.
Visit the Charter of Rights website here

Just.Equal has created a tool to enable people to email Tasmanian MPs to urge them to support the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute's proposal to prohibit conversion practices.
View the tool at Just.Equal

A change.org petition has been started, calling for churches to lose their tax-free status and for "the religious influence of churches in Australian politics and society" to be limited. It's currently up to 28,000 signatures.
View the petition at change.org

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.

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!

Until next time, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Mastodon.

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!