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Pages tagged "free speech"
MR: Threats to religious freedoms still remain in anti-discrimination bill
· January 31, 2013 11:00 AM
Thursday, 31st January 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomes the decision from the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon to remove conduct that offends from the draft anti-discrimination bill but warns concerns still remain about religious freedom.
Ms Roxon announced that her department will be given the option to remove section 19(2)(b) of the draft bill, a section which would prohibit conduct that “offends, insults or intimidates”.
But ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said more needs to be changed in order to provide adequate protection for freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
“The removal of the ‘offends or insults’ section, while a positive step, does not completely remove the threats to freedom of religion this bill poses - particularly in Section 23, 32 and 33,” Mr Wallace said.
“Currently the exemptions are too narrow in their protection of religious freedom.
“Just as any political party can choose employees who share the aims of the party - churches, Christians schools and other faith-based organisations must be confident they can choose staff who will uphold the ethos of the organisation.
“They should be able to retain their right to employ staff who are committed to upholding the tenets and beliefs of the organisation – no matter what their role.
“Also Section 3 of the Act needs to be amended to acknowledge freedom of religion as a fundamental right, as it is in international human rights law with the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” he said.
Mr Wallace added that even with the removal of section 19(2)(b) the bill still represents an extension of anti-discrimination law.
“The bill expands the number of attributes protected under current anti-discrimination law from four – race, sex, disability and age – to 18,” he said.
“Whilst religion is included as a protected attribute, it’s only protected in work and work-related areas whereas most of the other attributes are protected in ‘any area of public life’.
“This places religion at a lower priority for protection in government policy when it should be afforded at least the same protection as other attributes.
“The aim for non-discrimination must be balanced against the right to freedom of religion.”
Chelsea Pietsch on the Political Spot
· December 17, 2012 11:00 AM
Chelsea Pietsch is from Freedom for Faith, a new body representing various Christian Churches and faith-based organisation in relationship to religious freedom. She spoke to the ACL's Katherine Spackman about Freedom for Faith's concerns about the proposed
Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill
which could see a loss of freedom.
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.”
Mark Brown on The Political Spot
· November 13, 2012 11:00 AM
Mark Brown is the Tasmanian Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. He spoke to Daniel Simon about proposed changes to Tasmania's anti-discrimination laws.
Jim Wallace addresses Bridge Church on the definition of marriage
· October 09, 2012 11:00 AM
On the weekend of the 22nd & 23rd of September, ACL's Managing Director Jim Wallace addressed Bridge Church in Melbourne on the definition of marriage and the importance for Christians to make a stand in ensuring the preservation of the union as between a man and a woman.
To listen to the sermon, click on the link below:
The Wau Wau Sisters: Offensive show in Brisbane funded by government
· September 24, 2012 10:00 AM
Does freedom of speech include the freedom to offend? And to joke at another’s expense? Yes.
Second question – should State and Local government then fund a play that sets out to offend? No
Irreverent, sacrilegious and foul-mouthed. That is how the latest show is described featured in the Brisbane Festival. Of the finale, the sisters’ version of Jesus Christ’s Last Supper, the Courier Mail on the weekend quote the performers, “Why not re-invent one of the most infamous dinner parties on Earth with the hosts being a two-headed female Jesus?”
The Wau Wau sisters make it clear that they are not worried about offending anyone and say that their show is about freedom, tolerance and inclusion – and about having a laugh.
Queensland’s religious vilification laws ask the following question as a guideline as to whether the laws apply. Could it incite hatred (serious contempt or severe ridicule)?
Would the State or Local government ever consider funding a movie such as “The Innocence of Islam” which is currently receiving world-wide condemnation? Surely not! And rightly so. Neither should they fund this play which ridicules the Christian Messiah, Jesus Christ.
to find out more about the Brisbane Festival and the Wau Wau Sisters' show.
MR: PM’s withdrawal from ACL conference a blow to constituency, win for aggressive gay activists
· September 06, 2012 10:00 AM
Thursday 6 September 2012
The Prime Minister’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Christian Lobby’s national conference is based on inaccurate media reporting and misrepresentation by gay activists.
Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Jim Wallace said the decision would come as a deep disappointment to Australia’s Christian constituency.
“This is a victory for the relentless campaign of demonization against anyone who would challenge the gay activists’ agenda in the public square.”
Mr Wallace said at no stage did he say that “smoking is healthier than gay marriage”, as reported by some media.
“What I did say is that heterosexual sex and homosexual sex are different and have different health consequences. They should not be packaged the same way as marriage because, as just one of many reasons, they are different.
“If we warn against smoking because it carries health dangers, we should also be warning young people in particular about activity which clearly carries health risks,” Mr Wallace said.
“The experience in places like Massachusetts is that it is very difficult to have this conversation where the lifestyle is held to be the equal of marriage.”
Mr Wallace rejected the characterisation of himself and the ACL as heartless.
“This is a blow to free speech of which there will be even greater pressure if the definition of marriage is changed,” Mr Wallace said.
“It is disappointing that the Prime Minister has acted so hastily on the basis of misreporting and false information from gay activists.”
MR: Lack of consultation means vilification laws should be put on hold
· August 19, 2012 10:00 AM
For Release: Sunday August 19, 2012
The ACT's proposed religious vilification laws should be put on hold until consultation was held with religious communities, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said it was extremely disappointing that such controversial laws were being rushed into the Assembly this week when there had been no consultation at all with Canberra's Christian constituency.
Similar laws in Victoria were extremely controversial and led to protracted and expensive legal action which proved counterproductive to social cohesion, Mr Wallace said.
"These same laws were deemed completely unnecessary by the former New South Wales Labor Government which rejected them out of hand.
“While no right thinking person supports vilification of anyone, creating a big legal stick to wield if groups felt vilified would end up suppressing free speech,” Mr Wallace said.
"In a society such as ours which determines its values through the contest of ideas, there needs to be the freedom to engage in robust debate without fear of a legal process being initiated by someone who feels offended.
"The ACT, like the rest of Australia, has defamation laws and these should apply when free speech crosses the line and causes injury."
Mr Wallace said it was wrong that offensive posters had been circulated targeting Canberra's Muslim community but vilification laws were not the way to address this.
MR: ACT religious vilification laws to stifle religious freedom
· August 14, 2012 10:00 AM
Tuesday, 14th August, 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby has expressed concern at the ACT Government’s intent in introducing religious vilification legislation in the Assembly.
ACL’s Managing Director Jim Wallace said religious vilification legislation was an overreaction to an isolated incident that would stifle religious freedom rather than enhance it.
“The experience of the ‘two Dannies’ case under Victorian religious vilification legislation shows that rather than protecting religious freedom, such laws have a detrimental effect on the ability of people to act in accordance with their conscience,” Mr Wallace said.
“The Victorian experience showed that religious vilification laws diminish social cohesion and lead to expensive and acrimonious legal processes.
“Religious vilification legislation also had a suppressing effect on free speech, with the threat of legal action and tribunal hearings causing people to step back from important public discussion,” he said.
“We hold very strong reservations for religious freedom and free speech under the proposed ACT legislation.”
Mr Wallace said that ACL supported the freedom of people of all faiths and none to express their views in the public square without the threat of legal action, which is necessary for the proper functioning of a democracy.
Mr Wallace said the government should at least wait until the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council had reviewed the Discrimination Act, including a thorough public consultation process, before moving on such a contentious policy issue.
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