Weekend Wrap for 7 September 2019

In today's Weekend Wrap, reactions to the draft religious discrimination legislation continue to dominate news and analysis in the secular space. Here are some of the articles from the past week.

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The National View

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek believes the provisions that override state anti-discrimination laws will make it difficult for the oppositon to support the religious discrimination legislation (The Guardian).

In a sign of deepening division within Labor, Joel Fitzgibbon has backed the Attorney-General, saying the bill was on track to a “sensible and balanced outcome” (The Australian).

Equality Tasmania is calling on federal Labor to defend the state’s strong anti-discrimination and hate speech laws from being affected by the Morrison government’s proposed religious discrimination legislation (Star Observer).

Australia’s Hindu Council wants the government to ensure that religious schools are required to admit teachers and students from other religious backgrounds, concerned that the proposed religious freedom laws will limit opportunities for religious minorities (SMH).

The Law Council of Australia has warned that provisions in the draft bill could undermine existing racial discrimination laws by allowing the expression of religious beliefs that offend, insult or humiliate people based on race (The Guardian).

LGBTIQ advocate Shelley Argent has called on opposition leader Anthony Albanese, Greens leader Richard Di Natale and crossbenchers to oppose the government’s bill, saying it would fail to protect her community members (Star Observer).

Justice Sarah Derrington, the chair of the Australian Law Reform Commission, which is cuurrently reviewing religious exemptions, has presented to a 'freedom for faith' advocacy conference her suggestions for a new section of the Sexual Discrimination Act (Eternity News).

Catholics are pushing for reform of the institution, including on issues such as the ordination of women, an end to clericalism and greater inclusion for LGBTIQ or divorced people, following the conviction of paedophile priest George Pell.

Around the Country

WA: The McGowan government condemned the filibustering tactics used in parliament to delay the progress of its voluntary assisted dying legislation (ABC).

WA: Faith groups have banded together to urge state MPs to oppose voluntary assisted dying, arguing in a letter to parliamentarians that palliative care was sufficient in preventing people from dying in pain (The West Australian).

QLD: Figures reveal that, each month, seven people with terminal and debilitating conditions are committing suicide in Queensland (Brisbane Times).

QLD: Religious leaders in the north have hit out against the push for the parliament to introduce voluntary assisted dying, while campaigners gear up for street protests next month (Catholic Leader).

QLD: An Anglican priest has backed a grassroots movement, spearheaded by Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools, calling for a review of religious instruction in public schools (Courier Mail).

NSW: Two conservative Liberal MPs are threatening to move to the crossbench if the Berejiklian government refuses to allow amendments to the abortion decriminalisation bill (The Guardian).

VIC: Some upset Anglicans are warning of a national "crisis in the church" after the Wangaratta diocese voted to bless same-sex marriages (ABC).

Commentary and Analysis

When push comes to shove on immigration issues, religious politicians put politics before their religious principles, writes Annabel Crabb (ABC).

Restrictions on freedom of religion are necessary to protect the public from religious extremists, writes Ian Robinson (The Rationalist Society).

In this profile, Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Martyn Iles says he makes no apology for focusing on pro-life and LGBT issues because they represent "an ideology that is moving actively and viciously against the Christian faith" (Eternity News).

Divisions within the major parties and across the community pose challenges for both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in handling debate on the religious discrimination bill, writes Karen Middleton (The Saturday Paper).

Academic Renae Barker argues that the drafting of legislation in the wake of high-profile cases such as Israel Folau and Archbishop Porteous, along with the proposed ‘fixes’ for these, risks derailing debate from actual religious discrimination (ABC).

While religious lobbyists are given a megaphone on so many issues of social policy, the thing that irks them is that fewer among us are listening, writes Julie Szego (SMH).

Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, makes his case for why religions need positive protections – a "big, bold right" – instead of exceptions to discrimination laws (The Australian).

Xavier Symons argues that Christians and people of faith need stronger protections as they “aspire through public outreach to strengthen communities” (SMH).

The Age editorialises that the religious discrimination bill looks more like "a solution in search of a problem".

That's it for another week!

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