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Frank Brennan Will Vote ‘Yes’ but He Still Wants to Protect Religious Freedom

Frank Brennan in The Guardian (Aug 17) says, “I am one of those Australians who will be pleased when same-sex marriages are recognised by Australian law but with adequate protection for religious freedoms.”

Further informative comments:

“One thing is certain. The issues surrounding religious freedom in a society which recognises same-sex marriage will not be fully resolved any time soon. Some argue that these issues should be resolved before the public votes in a compulsory plebiscite or voluntary postal survey. I can see that opponents of same-sex marriage might want to insist on this, and that supporters of same-sex marriage might regard this as a time delaying tactic. I could vote “yes” in a survey while hoping and demanding that the parliament do the hard work on religious freedoms when considering amendments to the Marriage Act. It is important to appreciate that the legal and policy changes needed to protect religious freedom would not appear in the Marriage Act but in other statutes such as the Sex Discrimination Act.”

[These words from Cardinal Pell after a meeting with the PM on the national human rights consultation well captures our viewpoint about the best way to protect religious freedom.]

“We are very keen to ensure that the right to practise religion in public life continues to be protected in law. It is not ideal that religious freedom is protected by so called ‘exemptions and exceptions’ in anti-discrimination law, almost like reluctant concessions, crumbs from the secularists’ table. What is needed is legislation that embodies and recognises these basic religious freedoms as a human right.”

“In February this year, the parliament’s select committee on the exposure draft of the marriage amendment (same-sex marriage) bill unanimously reported: “Overall the evidence supports the need for current protections for religious freedom to be enhanced. This would most appropriately be achieved through the inclusion of ‘religious belief’ in federal anti-discrimination law.” “

“It’s no longer good enough to treat the non-derogable right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion simply as an exemption to non-discrimination laws.”

Click here for the full article.

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