First they came for the Catholics…

The proposed action for sexual orientation vilification against a Roman Catholic bishop for teaching what the Roman Catholic church believes about marriage, which I noted at an early stage in a previous post, is now becoming broader.

I have an opinion piece today on the issues in the online version of Eternity, “Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission finds all Catholic Bishops might have a “case to answer”” (Nov 13, 2015). I had originally prepared these comments based on previous reports that the anti-discrimination claim was being made simply against Archbishop Julian Porteus, from Hobart, but I have now added a few additional remarks by way of introduction about the announcement today that the action is apparently now being taken against other Roman Catholic bishops around Australia. I encourage readers to click on the link to the Eternity article before reading the rest of this blog post.

For those who are interested in the legal background to whether a discrimination claim under one Australian State’s law can be enforced against people in another State, see Burns v Gaynor [2015] NSWCATAD 211 (14 Oct 2015), a case which raised related issues (in that it dealt with alleged “homosexual vilification” of a person who had not been named but was making a claim simply as someone of a homosexual orientation). There the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal held that a person who posted material on a computer in Queensland could not be held liable for a “public act” under NSW discrimination law. Similar logic would suggest that the Tasmanian law is intended to refer to conduct engaged in, in Tasmania, rather than outside that jurisdiction.

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