Name withheld

Submission number: 
36
Date of submission: 
21st December 2017

Religious freedoms - personal, charitable, schools, businesses all need defending.

Any person or business or school or organisation must have the right to religious freedom without fear of prosecution for living out or upholding their religious belief personally or as a business owner.

We can’t have freedom of religion in Australia until laws like section 18C are repealed.

Freedom of speech is at the heart of freedom of religion. You can’t live with a religious worldview if you don’t also have the freedom to express that worldview without threat of legal restriction.

Laws like section 18C and similar state laws have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech of all Australians, including religious Australians.

Religious freedom must start with the repeal of laws like section 18C

An association’s ability to offer its conception of truth to the wider society is a necessary condition of an open and flourishing democratic society. Any removal of the ability of faith-based charities or businesses or organisations or schools etc. to determine and espouse their beliefs would be a restriction on these historically hard-won liberties.

A further concern is the failure of certain state legislation to acquit Australia’s obligations to protect religious freedom under international law. Article 50 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applies the rights contained therein, including religious freedom, to all parts of a federation, “without any limitations or exceptions.”

One glaring example is the failure of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 to accord religious bodies their rights in respect of the protected attributes of marital or relationship status leaving aside an unlikely argument that commonwealth law prevails, a church cannot require that its priests refrain from either married or de facto relationships in Tasmania.

A similar illustration of the inadequacy of state law is provided by the recent threat by the University of Sydney Union to de-register the Evangelical Union on the basis of its “discriminatory” requirement that new members affirm that “Jesus is Lord.” The concern arises as religious belief is not a protected attribute under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). This concern was also highlighted by social media calls for Macquarie University lecturer Stephen Chavura to be dismissed based on his association with the conservative charity, the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

In the absence of an equivalent protection under commonwealth law, the Evangelical Union and Mr Chavura are left without protection. A commonwealth enactment protecting organisations and individuals from discrimination on the basis of religious belief would address this concern.

It is bad enough that we have diluted moral standards and forced them through as law for a very small number of people who choose to live an immoral lifestyle it would be an absolute disgrace not to protect the personal and corporate religious beliefs that are part of our democratic freedoms and way of life.

We can agree to disagree and protect this fundamental freedom its the right thing to do

It’s is a fundamentL right of every Australian to choose and live by their faith. Do not erode these freedoms for the few. There are choices no matter the business service or product you want and the absurdity of a minority group dictating how people should live their convictions is wrong