An extraordinary claim before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal recently, Secular Party of Australia Inc. v the Department of Education and Training (Human Rights)  VCAT 1321 (27 August 2018), alleged that a child at a public school should be prevented from wearing Islamic religious garb in the child’s own interests! Thankfully the claim failed, but the fact that the case could even be argued illustrates the pressure that some groups on society are placing on parents and children of faith.
In a very interesting recent decision, Bevege v Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia  NSWCATAD 44 (4 March 2016), the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found that an Islamic group unlawfully discriminated against a female member of the audience for a seminar they were running, by requiring her to sit in a “women only” area.
In my view the decision is somewhat disturbing, and has the potential, if followed in the future, to undermine the appropriate recognition of religious freedom in NSW. The implications may extend beyond Muslim groups to a range of religious groups.
My friend and colleague Professor Rex Ahdar from the University of Otago, NZ (and one of the common law world’s leading Law and Religion scholars) is organising a colloquium on “Multiculturalism and Accommodation of Religious Difference” to be held in QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND on Wednesday, 3 February 2016. More details and the official “call for papers” can be found here. To quote the handout:
Scholars in the areas of multiculturalism, pluralism, ethnic studies, demography, religious freedom, human rights and related disciplines are cordially invited to submit an abstract (maximum of 200 words) for a paper to be given at this colloquium of experts.
There is also limited space for participants who do not wish to present a paper, but who wish, nonetheless, to contribute to the lively discussion at this unique event under the auspices of the Faculty of Law, University of Otago
Should be a great day!