Weekend Wrap for 7 April 2024

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 7 April 2024, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

Videos from the Secularism Australia Conference 2023 are now available. The NSL was a proud co-organiser and co-sponsor of this event.

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At the National Level

National LGBTQIA+ advocates are calling on the Australian Greens to push for comprehensive reform when dealing with the government on religious discrimination legislation. In March, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese indicated religious discrimination reform could be shelved, if he could not secure bipartisan support for change. Last week, the PM indicated he could work with the Greens to move a Bill forward. Rodney Croome, spokesperson for national advocacy organisation Just.Equal Australia, hopes this new direction will see reform that protect LGBTIQA+ people from discrimination beyond faith-based schools. (30 Mar 2024)
Read more at Out in Perth

For many of us, these Easter holidays are a welcome chance to go slow for a few days. But for others, they are steeped in religious significance, and an important part of the Christian calendar. The question is, should these Holy Days still be holidays? Mark McCrindle, Social analyst, Demographer and Author, comments (and as many do, conflates secularism with atheism). (1 Apr 2024)
Listen to this piece at ABC Radio National

The United Nations Human Rights Council has made history by passing a resolution affirming the rights of intersex individuals, marking a landmark moment in human rights advocacy. The resolution, titled “Combating discrimination, violence, and harmful practices against intersex persons,” was spearheaded by the governments of Australia, Chile, Finland, and South Africa. 24 countries voted in support of the resolution, with 23 abstentions and no votes against it. Last year, landmark legislation banning unnecessary and irreversible medical procedures for intersex individuals was enacted in the ACT Legislative Assembly. (6 Apr 2024)
Read more at the Star Observer

Around the Country

SA: South Australia is the only state yet to commit to outlawing gay conversion practices. Before becoming premier at the 2022 election, Peter Malinauskas, told South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) campaigners he would work to ensure this practice does not happen in the state. Two years on, the SA government says it stands by its promise, but is cautious about tackling what it has called a "complex issue". (2 Apr 2024)
Read more at ABC News

Commentary and Analysis

Alastair Lawrie: Religious school homophobia causes long-term harm. But change is possible.
"...religious school homophobia, biphobia and transphobia causes serious harm. For me, that meant thinking about committing suicide every single day from the start of Term 2 in Year 8, until the final term of Year 12. Sometimes upwards of twenty times a day. That is no way for a child to live. And definitely no way to learn, or to grow. Nor does it suddenly end when the students who are the victims of this prejudice leave the school gates for the final time. Trust me, I know. Those terrible five years have impacted me for much, much longer than that again." (30 Mar 2024)
Read more at alastairlawrie.net

Sarah Brookes and Hamish Hastie: 350 Optus Stadiums: Counting the staggering profit of God’s acres in Perth.
"From the wealthy western suburbs, across the Wheatbelt and out to the South Australian border, Perth’s two largest churches have amassed an eye-watering fortune in property. ... These impressive property portfolios equate to about 350 Optus Stadium precincts, making the churches some of the biggest landowners in the state and providing them with more lucrative sources of income than the humble collection plate. But this abundant wealth is a double-edged sword that has fired up a debate over religious entities’ generous tax exemptions, and raised questions about the gruelling uphill battles survivors of abuse in these institutions faced when securing compensation." (3 Apr 2024)
Read more at The Age

Rosie Clare Shorter: Hardaker’s take on the rise and fall of Hillsong and Houston.
"In recent years, 'unlikely king' Brian got widespread attention as a “close friend” of Scott Morrison, who had regularly attended Horizon Church, founded by a former Hillsong pastor, before he became Australia’s prime minister. However, Houston resigned in March last year, after allegations of inappropriate conduct of 'serious concern' with two women. In the same month, Hillsong was accused in Australia’s parliament of 'fraud, money laundering and tax evasion'. And, last August, Houston was found not guilty of charges of covering up sexual abuse by his pastor father Frank, whom he described as a 'serial paedophile'. (The court accepted Brian’s claim his father’s victim had asked him not to report to police.) ... Now, Crikey journalist David Hardaker tells the story of Hillsong in his new book, Mine is the Kingdom." (4 Apr 2024)
Read more at Rationale Magazine

Bert Hetebry: I need the right to discriminate!
"Why is there even a need for the right to discriminate? Have these educated people not learned anything from history? To entrench discrimination at the level of teacher is to entrench the orthodoxy which allows contempt for this who are different. Surely the differences which are in the communities we live in need to be reflected in everyday life, and that includes in the school environment. Otherwise we reinforce intolerance, we hide behind a veil of piety that allows for discrimination and judgement on people who do not conform to the rigidity of the orthodoxy of the school or its religious controlling body." (6 Apr 2024)
Read more at the AIMN

Events and Campaigns

Tune in to the next RSA Webinar on Wednesday 10 April, when investigative journalist David Hardaker will speak about his new book on the rise and fall of Hillsong, and some of the key focuses of his reporting on religion in Australia. Register at the RSA website

Support Independent MP Kate Chaney's proposed laws dealing with the “telehealth problem” preventing access to timely voluntary assisted dying across the country. Contact your federal MP and senators here.

Residents of NSW, there is a petition running that calls on the state parliament to run scripture (SRE) and ethics (SEE) lessons outside class time in NSW public schools. View the petition at the NSW Parliament House website

The Australia Institute are calling on federal parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech. View the petition at The Australia Institute

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

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 30,000 signatures. View the petition at change.org

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!

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