Weekend Wrap for 5 October 2019

With the government’s public consultation period now over for its controversial Religious Discrimination Bill, there a plenty of views to pore over. So sit back, grab a drink and read through our Weekend Wrap of news and views in the secular space from the past week.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

The National View

The Human Rights Commission has warned of “undesirable consequences” in its submission to the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill, arguing that new laws should not give preference to one human right over another (SBS).

A coalition of Islamic groups is calling for extra protections for Muslims in the government’s ‘religious freedom’ legislation, especially through an anti-vilification provision (The Age).

Religious people would be able to publicly shame rape survivors and unmarried women would be powerless in cases where doctors scolded them as “sinful and dirty” for seeking contraception, Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Religious has warned in its submission (The Age).

The Uniting Church is urging the government to remove from its draft ‘religious freedom’ bill a section exempting statements of belief from anti-discrimination laws, arguing that the bill sets the “harm bar” too high in protecting religious rights over other rights (The Age).

Sydney’s Anglican diocese has rejected the government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill and predicted it could open the way for Anglican youth to be forced to host Satanist masses (The Guardian).

The Catholic Church is demanding major changes to the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill so to extend the church’s ability to hire and fire at will to religious hospitals and aged-care facilities (SMH).

A religious employee could be free to publicly oppose same-sex marriage while a gay employee could for prevented from voicing their support for it, noted legal academics and the Diversity Council in a joint submission that warned of employers being restricted from preventing workplace bullying (The Guardian).

Constitutional expert Luke Buke believes the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill may be unconstitutional in allowing medical practitioners to refuse treatment and in privileging statements of religious belief (The Guardian).

Fearful of the impact of proposed ‘religious freedom’ laws, LGBTIQ+ activists are calling for the establishment of a new ‘sexuality and gender’ commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission (Out in Perth).

Christian think tank Freedom for Faith wants greater freedom for faith-based bodies, including aged-care facilities, hospitals and child-care centres, to hire staff according to their preference for people who practise their own faith (Eternity News).

Peak disability bodies are worried that new ‘religious freedom’ laws would allow for discriminatory statements against people of disability and override protections in the Disability Discrimination Act (Disability Support Guide).

Labor Senator Pat Dodson, a former Catholic priest, has argued that legalised voluntary assisted dying could prevent Indigenous Australians from accessing medical care (The Australian).

Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies has labelled the progessive view on marriage within the Anglican Church as a “virus” and urged same-sex marriage supporters to “go off and start your own church”, as Newcastle’s Anglicans consider blessing same-sex marriages (Eternity News).

An investigation into prosperity preacher Philip Pringle has alleged that his Pentecostal C3 church is a “total con job” that is putting “incredible pressure” on people to donate money to fund his lavish lifestyle (A Current Affair).

Around the Country

NSW: A secular parents group opposed to religious instruction in public schools is concerned that the government’s ‘religious freedom’ legislation will force schools to rent out their facilities to religious groups with extreme views (Star Observer).

NSW: Independent schools are calling for a positive right to discriminate on the basis of religion when employing staff (The Australian).

TAS: Concerned members of the LGBTQI+, disability and Indigenous communities, plus women’s health advocates, rallied in Hobart to oppose the federal government’s plans to override the state’s strong anti-discrimination laws (Star Observer).

Commentary and Analysis

Labor could come out and sink the Morrison government’s Religious Discrimination Bill but has chosen to remain silent, witres equality activist Rodney Croome (Star Observer).

Lisa Annese, of the Diversity Council Australia, writes that the Religious Discrimination Bill, if enacted, would be terrible for employers but great for lawyers (Women’s Agenda).

David Kernohan, of the Western Australian AIDS Council, offers some advice for the LGBTIQ+ community in building resilience in the face of further discrimination due to the impact of government’s ‘religious freedom’ legislation (Out in Perth).


The NSL's ambassador, Fiona Patten MP, will be going head-to-head against the Australian Christian Lobby's MD Martyn Iles in a debate on the proposed "religious freedom" legislation on 9th October 2019 at the National Press Club, Canberra, televised on ABC TV. More information and ticket sales here.

That's it for another week!

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