It was a mistake to mention sharia law, admits Australian Islamic leader

Chris Merritt – The Australian

THE man who triggered a massive backlash by pushing for sharia law believes his critics have misunderstood what he stands for.

Ikebal Patel, who is president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, drew widespread criticism last month when he called for Australia to compromise with Islam and introduce "legal pluralism".

Courts outside the usual legal processes can offer better outcomes

Ian Crawshaw – The Age

Why the big panic over sharia in Australia? Religious courts go hand in hand with free market democracy and are a heroic bulwark against unaffordable justice and creeping socialist totalitarianism. Let me explain why.

Gender changes for High Court

Farah Farouque – The Age

What is a woman? What is a man?

The High Court will be asked to ponder this fundamental question in an appeal involving two transsexuals who want to change the sex recorded on their birth certificates from female to male.

Kirby urges private school cuts

Dan Harrison – The Age

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has backed a funding cut to private schools, more money for public education and the ejection of school chaplains from government schools.

When I go to dinner with the Prime Minister...

Sandy Miller – The Punch

My name is Sandy and I am a fiancée, mother, friend, and primary school teacher.

My gorgeous fiancée of two years, Louise, is an ex-nurse who now works as a medical equipment consultant to hospitals. We have two beautiful boys from my previous marriage – aged 11 and 9. We are a loving and close family, just like any other. Except in one way: my partner and I are both women so under Australian law, cannot marry. Many people do not regard us as a family.

Are women's rights, human rights?

Kali Goldstone – Online Opinion

Gender persecution is "aggression against and exploitation of women, because [they] are women, systemically and systematically." Even though women can be abused similarly to the ways in which men are abused, women are also violated in specific ways in which men are not. Notably, if men are violated in such ways, they become the exception to the rule.

State stubs out all smoking ads

Roseanne Barrett – The Australian

All cigarette advertising and display will be banned in shops – and tobacconists – when Queensland rolls out Australia's toughest anti-tobacco sales laws this year.

Congressmen challenge Obama on Libya

Simon Mann, Washington - SMH

War-weary members of Congress have challenged President Barack Obama on two fronts, asking a court to put an end to United States involvement in the attack on Libya, and calling for a big reduction in American troop numbers in Afghanistan.

All eyes on NY as pressure mounts for gay marriage

Michael Gorman and Michael Hill – Associated Press (World Magazine)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Gay couples watched anxiously as a closely divided New York Senate started, then stalled, down the path toward a vote on whether to legalize gay marriage, a pivotal decision with national consequences that looked more and more likely to rest in the hands of just two Republican Catholics from conservative upstate areas.

Taxpayers fork out $12m to spruik Gillard Government's carbon tax

Matt Johnston – Herald Sun

A $12 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to spruik a carbon tax has prompted outrage and been lashed as an "abuse of public money".

Julia Gillard shapes her vision of brave new Australia

Tom Dusevic – The Australian

Julia Gillard will use the resources boom to "remake how we experience what it is to be Australian" by permanently extending opportunity to the poor and disadvantaged, as the nation moves to a low-carbon and information-rich economy.

Gay marriage will lead us into anarchy, says Super Bowl hero

Daily Mail Reporter (UK)

Renowned New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree has waded into the debate on gay marriage - claiming its legalisation will push the country towards 'anarchy.'