Voluntary Assisted Dying Proposals in Qld- Guest Blog

I am pleased to be able to post this guest post from Dr Alex Deagon FHEA, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, who had made a Submission to the Queensland Parliamentary Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee on Voluntary Assisted Dying. 

 In short, his opinion (which I support) is that voluntary assisted dying should not be permitted, but if it is, medical practitioners and institutions should be able to hold and exercise conscientious objections.  This issue, of course, relates to “law and religion” because there are deep religious objections to VAD; but it should be noted that the reasons offered by Dr Deagon are not based on a religious world-view, being instead general public policy considerations. The question of conscientious objection, of course, will also be especially relevant to religious medical practitioners, but again there will be many others who object to the procedure on other moral grounds.

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Church liability for clergy child abuse

I am presenting a paper at a Melbourne Law School seminar on “Tort Liability of Churches for Clergy Child Abuse after the Royal Commission: Implications of Developments in the Law of Vicarious Liability and Non-Delegable Duty”, which is now available for those who are interested. The (fairly technical legal) paper reviews common law liability of churches, touches on some of the statutory changes in NSW and Victoria following the Royal Commission, and suggests that the High Court of Australia should refine the law of “non-delegable duty” to allow it to be used in cases involving intentional torts.

Religious Freedom at Australian Universities

I presented a paper today (linked here) to a seminar at the University where I work, on the topic of “Religious Freedom at Australian Universities”. It explores some of the challenges facing staff and students in this area, and explores some of the ways that religious freedom is currently protected (and where there are gaps in that protection.) I use examples from the policies framed in my local context, but similar policies and legislation would be relevant at most Australian Universities. Others involved in this area may find the paper helpful in outlining issues and options.

Religious Freedom and land-clearing

A religious group has claimed that “religious freedom rights” allow it to ignore Australian laws governing land-clearing and other provisions regulating land development. The claim is clearly wrong. It is important to spell out why, so this false claim does not affect other, justifiable, arguments that can be made about appropriate protection of religious freedom.

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Religious Freedom Implications of Same Sex Marriage in Australia

I presented a paper at a conference on “Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Other Fundamental Freedoms” on Thursday  15 Feb. The paper, “Protection of Religious Freedom under Australia’s Amended Marriage Law: Constitutional and Other Issues” is linked here for those who are interested: Freedom of Religion or Belief paper Foster .

I argue that, while some religious freedom rights are protected under the amended marriage law, there are some serious gaps in protection for some involved deeply in the celebration of same sex weddings, and also a failure to deal with a range of other issues, such as the ability of faith-based schools to operate in accordance with their fundamental commitments in both engagement of staff and teaching pupils, and whether people who conscientiously believe that same sex relationships are not best for human flourishing will be penalised in the workplace or elsewhere. I note that at least one State in the US has enacted legislation to deal with these issues, which has survived one challenge in the US Supreme Court, and I recommend that Australia seriously consider also legislating in this way.