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MR: Freedom of speech and freedom of religion threatened by Tasmanian anti-discrimination legislation
· November 14, 2012 11:00 AM
For release: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion will be diminished in Tasmania if amendments to anti-discrimination legislation are passed by the Parliament, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
The Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2012, which is being debated today, would threaten the ability of religious schools to maintain their ethos, ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said.
“In the same way political parties are able to positively discriminate in favour of people who share their ethos, religious schools should also have this right in order to preserve their distinctives,” Mr Brown said.
The proposed changes would deny schools the ability to select students according to the faith and values of students or their parents.
Schools could apply for an exception on a case-by-case basis but the requirements are onerous.
“The proposed changes to the Bill violate the rights of parents who want to educate their children a certain way, and the rights of those children who share their parents’ faith and values,” Mr Brown said.
“Article 18(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) specifically protects the right of parents “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions".
“Faith-based schools should have the right to determine their enrolments according to their mission and purpose. This is to ensure that the religious ethos and community culture of the school is maintained,” Mr Brown said.
“Instead of case-by-case exceptions, there should be a general exemption allowing schools to select students of the particular faith of the school.
“Just as single-sex schools will positively discriminate in selecting students of one sex, schools which are set up to serve a particular faith community must be allowed to uphold the purpose and intent of their schools by selecting students of a particular faith, should they choose to do so,” Mr Brown said.
The proposed legislation would also expand the prohibition of conduct which “offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults, or ridicules".
Mr Brown said such changes would threaten free speech and open dialogue and increase unnecessary litigation, concerns which are heightened by the experience with anti-vilification laws in Victoria.
“ACL certainly objects to behaviour that incites hatred or ridicules another but to open the prohibition of offence to things like religious or political belief or sexual orientation is a threat to freedom of speech. Who doesn’t get offended or insulted at times by others’ differences of opinion? This is part of living in a democracy,” Mr Brown said.
“Censoring free speech based on hurt feelings is to trivialise discrimination and is political correctness gone mad.”
A successful petition to stop photoshopping images of girls in magazines
· October 25, 2012 11:00 AM
, Jessica Barlow began a petition asking CLEO magazine to stop photoshopping images of girls. More than 20,000 people signed the petition, which impacted the magazine and produced outstanding results. After making the editor aware of all the thousands of girls whose self-esteem had been affected by photoshopping policies, Jessica came out winning. The magazine agreed to:
- Print their photoshopping policy in the front pages of every issue
- "Never slim down or alter girls' physical appearance in the photos they personally shoot for the mag"
- Consider "a disclaimer on externally sourced altered cover images"
- Include "a six-page spread on the issues of digitally altering images, magazine and body image."
This is a great example of someone speaking out and seeing results!
To find out more, visit
Jessica's petition page
In the media - a wrap up of the last week's commentary
· October 24, 2012 11:00 AM
In the last week the ACL has been quoted in the media on homelessness and families, misogyny and sexism, and new spending cuts unveiled by the Federal Government. See below for links to mentions in the media.
ACL commented on early intervention strategies for reducing homelessness in children and young people:
Counselling and Mental Health Daily -
MR: Relationship counselling should be part of early intervention strategies to reduce homelessness
Christian Today Australia –
Homelessness should be countered by building stronger families, says Christian lobb
ACL’s Queensland Director Wendy Francis was interviewed by 96.5FM about misogyny and sexism, and what this means for Australian women:
Wendy Francis on 96.5FM
Managing Director Jim Wallace also commented on the government’s spending cuts and what this means for Australian families:
Sydney Morning Herald –
Swan unveils $1.1b surplus
MR: ACL calls on NT to reject RU486
· October 19, 2012 11:00 AM
For release: Friday, October 19, 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is calling on the Northern Territory (NT) government to reject legalising the chemical abortion pill RU486 because of the dangerous health risks it poses to women and unborn babies.
ACL spokeswoman Wendy Francis has expressed concern that those pushing for RU 486 in the Territory have not considered the health impacts.
“I encourage the NT government to consider the response of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to the Senate on the harm it has already caused to hundreds of women before it makes a judgement on whether to legalise the pill,” Ms Francis said.
In response to a question by Queensland Senator Ron Boswell during Senate Estimates earlier this year, the TGA said that since the drug was approved under the Authorised Provider Scheme in April 2006, there had been 832 reports of “adverse events” to women prescribed the drug.
Of the 832 women, 599 required surgery to remove the poisoned embryo after the failure of the drug to induce a miscarriage.
Ms Francis said tragically Australia had now recorded its first death of a woman who had been prescribed RU 486.
“Amazingly there has been no coronial investigation into this death and the NT Government should make no consideration to legalise the pill until this has occurred,” Ms Francis said.
“Women facing unsupported pregnancies should not be given a dangerous chemical to poison their unborn child and perhaps them – they should be offered real choices, including the option of support for keeping their unborn child,” Ms Francis said.
Victorian director Dan Flynn warns of the dangers of sexting
· October 10, 2012 11:00 AM
ACL's Victorian director Dan Flynn has spoken of the dangers of sexting among young people in an article published by Crikey. He discusses the need for tougher laws to protect children from the damaging wave of sexualisation in our society.
to read the Crikey article.
MR: ACL concerned for rights of parents under new Tasmanian relationships and sexuality education strategy
· October 03, 2012 10:00 AM
Wednesday, 3 October 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby has expressed concern about the rights of parents after the release of a new relationships and sexuality education strategy by the Tasmanian state Education Department includes teaching homosexuality to children.
Although the curriculum will not be mandatory for schools to take, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues would be covered in the teaching plans.
ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said parents should have the right to determine how their children were taught about issues of sexuality, including homosexuality.
“It is important that parents have forewarning about the material that will be taught and a choice in what their children are being taught. Parents should have the right to know about and opt their children out of these classes should their school adopt this new program," Mr Brown said.
Studies show that many adolescents go through a period of confusion about their sexuality but this does not mean they are homosexual and many go on to lead a heterosexual lifestyle.
Data from the National Health and Social Life Survey shows that three quarters of boys who think they are gay turn away naturally from a same-sex identity between the ages of around 16 to 25.
Mr Brown also said that teaching homosexuality to children as normative is not the way to combat the issue of bullying in schools.
“Bullying is a phenomenon that needs to be eliminated in all of its various manifestations.”
Mr Brown said ACL was concerned that this was being used as part of the gay lobby’s political push for same-sex marriage.
“This parental right to choice about what their children are taught is clearly something that is at risk if gay marriage created the legal and cultural cement under which it cannot be challenged.
“This has been clearly indicated by cases in the US,” Mr Brown said.
MR: Injecting illicit drugs is never safe
· October 03, 2012 10:00 AM
Wednesday, 3 October 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Victorian Government's rejection of calls for a drug injecting trial in Melbourne.
ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn said injecting illicit drugs is never safe and that Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge was right to stick to the Government’s election promise to oppose such a trial.
Mr Flynn said that
by Drug Free Australia into the Sydney supervised injecting facility found that for every user injecting in the “safe” rooms they inject elsewhere a further 34 times.
“Given that every injection is dangerous the proposed facility would not offer any effective protection.”
“Reduction in drug trafficking and drug related crime will only be achieved by rehabilitating addicts towards drug free status, not maintaining them in their addiction,” Mr Flynn said.
“The Sydney facility is estimated to cost in excess of $2.5m a year to run. That money would be more appropriately spent on programs to get addicts off drugs, including funding drug rehabilitation beds.”
A report by Dr Andrew Byrne in 2006 (cited in the Drug Free Australia report, p. 2) into the Sydney facility reveals that drugs regularly injected included heroin, ‘ice’ and cocaine.
Mr Flynn said that there was little evidence from assessments of the Sydney facility that drug users had been effectively referred to programs that helped them end their addiction.
“The message that injecting rooms send is that injecting is ok and can be safe. This is not a message we should be sending out to Victoria’s young people,” he said.
Drug Free Australia’s
of the Final Report of the Evaluation of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) reveals that the “overdose rate in the injecting room was 36 times higher than on the streets of Kings Cross."
Australia is obliged by International treaties to reduce demand for illicit drugs.
The United Nations International Narcotic Control Board, in a 2001
“. . . the operation of such facilities, where addicts inject themselves with illicit substances, condones Illicit drug use and drug trafficking and runs counter to the provisions of the international drug treaties.” (Para. 559)
Apart from the one facility in Sydney, no other Australian State or Territory has supported injecting rooms.
“The AMA should not be supporting such initiatives but instead investigating ways to treat and rehabilitate drug addicts,” Mr Flynn said.
“The Victorian Government should investigate the successful Swedish approach to illicit drugs. Key elements of the Swedish model are mandatory drug rehabilitation for those found addicted to drugs and strong policing of street selling.”
Wendy Francis on The Political Spot
· October 02, 2012 10:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby recently made a submission to the Queensland Government's inquiry into child protection. ACL Queensland Director spoke to Daniel Simon about the ACL's submission.
ACL's Jim Wallace writes in Eternity Newspaper
· September 27, 2012 10:00 AM
ACL's Managing Director Jim Wallace has had an opinion piece published in Eternity Newspaper entitled
Church must decide on whether it can remain silent.
See below for a copy of Mr Wallace's opinion piece.
The successful defence of marriage in the Federal Parliament has been blamed by same-sex activists on a host of reasons with no more substance than their arguments for marriage.
Of course the fact that the Coalition didn’t allow a conscience vote is prime among these, when even in a free vote it would have failed in the Lower House. But the hypocrisy of this claim runs much deeper.
Less than a year ago both major parties were committed to the biological reality that marriage is between a man and a woman. And it was only the very lack of a conscience vote for left union delegates at the Labor National Conference that put this truth under threat.
It is to Labor’s shame that it would be as hypocritical as to hound Abbott for the lack of a conscience vote in the Coalition, when the majority of the Australian Labor National Conference were not given free votes on it themselves.
It was here too that the tactics of demonisation so evident in this campaign, first surfaced. Highly respected Labor figures like Joe de Bryun were heckled and mocked with the skilful orchestration of Rainbow Labor. A tactic same sex activists have repeated to empty the public space of alternate voices here, just as they have overseas.
With a deftness that can only come from well resourced intent, it successfully labelled any opponents with the hate language of “homophobe”, “bigot”, “gay haters” and “propagators of hate”, when all the time they were the only ones in the debate using such language.
It simply defies reason and any sense of impartiality in the media at large, that the church, which comes to its position on marriage from a love of children and the desire to see them grow and flourish in the biological identity which by God’s grace they are created, should be accused of any motivation but love. Certainly at ACL that is our sole motivation, we would not by our very motivation in Christ, use the language of which we have been accused.
But this tactic has worked well for these activists overseas of course. Amsterdam’s Chief Rabbi was sacked and a Spanish Catholic Bishop threatened to be charged with hate speech for simply exercising both their freedom of religion and conscience by voicing their faiths’ positions that marriage is between a man and woman – something that should not surprise a church which knows that the world rejects truth.
However it is the effect on individuals of this tactic which is most shameful, with gay activism increasingly prepared to pursue dissenting voices to their professional and personal ruin.
A Canadian sports commentator was recently fired for tweeting “I believe in the TRUE meaning of marriage”. And in one of the saddest cases, America’s most successful Olympic gymnast Peter Vidmar was stripped of the honour of being chef de mission for the 2012 Olympics team by gay activists vitriol at his prominent support of marriage.
The next round of this debate must be conducted in a way that the merits of opposing views can be put forward without fear of public demonisation.
We must also ask ourselves whether the automatic default to conscience votes on difficult issues is really appropriate. The conscience vote has traditionally been for life issues, but should its use be so generally applied that in the end parties won’t have to tell us where they stand on any moral issues at elections, as if morality is a private matter with no public consequences.
It is the immorality of our legalised prostitution which drives the demand that causes some 800,000 women and girls to be trafficked across borders every year in a tragic trade netting criminals thirty two billion dollars annually. And the greed Christ taught as immoral, that drives an unfunded future debt in the West that has it caught in a spiral of immediate excessive gratification that will not only effect its own future generations, but will increase its blindness to the inexcusable inequality in a world in which those God loves die daily of starvation and preventable illness.
A conscience vote also exposes individual parliamentarians to the direct lobbying of individuals. This would be attractive if the process hadn’t been poisoned by gay activism to mean isolation by fear of public demonisation. This is a combination not helpful to democracy, but toxic for it.
But perhaps the biggest question to come out of this whole debate on marriage is for the church itself.
It must decide whether in a world replete with examples of this unreasonable gay activism using same sex marriage to relentlessly pursue the church and its very freedom to preach the Gospel it can remain silent and cowered. But more importantly, do we have the freedom to deny God’s very purpose for marriage, and if we do, what of Christ do we deny next?
French push for gay marriage includes ban on 'mother' and 'father'
· September 27, 2012 10:00 AM
France is planning to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all its official documents and replace them with the word 'parents' under new moves to legalise same-sex marriage.
An article published by The Telegraph newspaper tells of these controversial plans and the concern by the French Catholic church which has spoken out against the changes. A French Catholic Cardinal warned of the consequences of gay marriage, saying that it could lead to polygamy and the taboo on incest falling.
This issue brings to light the possible consequences should gay marriage be legalised. It would deny children the right to fully benefit from the love of their mother and father, and erode the very nature of family as the foundation of social life.
For more information, please read
The Telegraph article
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