Susan Duffy

Submission number: 
119
Date of submission: 
4th January 2018

My submission is:
Census data indicates most Australians do not identify with any religious ideology or institution.
Australia and Australian law should explicitly and firmly adopt the principle that Australia is a secular nation.
Religious views should have no place whatsoever in public life, debate and decision making.
All decision making should be on the basis of logical thinking and humanist principles. Religious views should have no place or voice in any public debate.
There should be no “special provision” for anyone, whether individual or organisational, to be able to express views that are hurtful, harmful, derogatory or demeaning to any one or individual or group of Australians under a spurious “religious freedom” exemption. All laws must apply to all Australians with no exemptions whatsoever. “Freedom of Expression” or “Religious Freedom” cannot pre-empt kindness and courtesy to others, nor any secular laws.
Religious institutions have repeatedly shown themselves as contemptuous of secular law and examination that the majority of Australians regard with at least some respect. This is clearly illustrated in the recent response of the Catholic Church to the report on Child Sex Abuse, and indeed their long history of contempt of secular law with regard to sex abuse. This response clearly shows that the Catholic Church should have no place whatsoever in Australian public life and decision making in any field.
The recent Same Sex Marriage postal ballot clearly showed that the majority of Australians are eons ahead of their so called political representatives, particularly the Conservative Liberal Country Party “representatives” on social thought and ideology. Look at the result in Tony Abbott’ electorate. This ballot also clearly showed that the extreme religious minority have been able to hijack and stifle the genuine voice of the majority of fair minded tolerant Australians on this and other human rights and humanitarian issues for many years.
There are regular debates on important social issues which should be decided by individuals, where religious extremists, because they have infiltrated our political structure, have managed to stifle human rights and impose their views on the individual’s right to independent decision making, in direct contradiction to the so called principles of political conservatism, where individuals are supposed to take responsibility for their own decisions. This happens repeatedly with respect to abortion (see Tony Abbott’s decision when Health Minister to prevent access to safe medical surgery free abortion, solely motivated by his extreme religious views), euthanasia and assisted dying debates.
My own illustration on the euthanasia story relates to the death of my mother in law. She suffered a prolonged and agonising dying, in a mostly intermittently comatose state due to ineffective drugs, whilst gradually being consumed by gangrene and drug poisoning. The RSPCA would have prosecuted me like a shot If I had kept a dog in such a condition, whether drugged or not. Why is a dog treated more humanely than a human? Because humanist principles have prevailed in the animal welfare debate.
Conclusion
There is no case for the peculiar concept of “religious freedom” to allow exemption to any Australian law.
I agree that this submission may be made public.