I am presenting a paper on this topic at the Freedom for Faith “Freedom17” conference in Canberra on Wednesday June 14. The paper is available here: Protecting Religious Freedom in Australia Through Legislative Balancing Clauses. It aims to review all the relevant clauses in discrimination laws in Australia (Commonwealth, State and Territories) which balance religious freedom with the right not to be discriminated against. (If I have missed any, please feel free to let me know!) It also reviews the relevant balancing clauses which were proposed in the Exposure Draft Bill released by the Federal Government last year as an example of how same sex marriage might be recognised. Finally, it explores circumstances in which some of the State and Territory discrimination laws might be invalid, where they provide narrower religious freedom protection than the Commonwealth law does.
A short post plugging some forthcoming Law & Religion events here in Australia which look to be excellent.
Last year I was honoured to help host the Freedom for Faith 2015 conference. This year there are two conferences sponsored by this excellent organisation, both of which look terrific. “Freedom for Faith”, to quote their website, is “a Christian legal think tank that exists to see religious freedom protected and promised in Australia.”
The first one-day conference, on Friday August 12 in Sydney, is aimed particularly at Christian leaders. Speakers include Dr Michael Ovey (Oak Hill College London), Professor Iain Benson (Notre Dame Law School), Rev Kanishka Raffel (Anglican Dean of Sydney), Dr Megan Best – ethicist, Dr Sam Chan – Evangelist City Bible Forum, Archbishop Julian Porteous – Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Lyle Shelton – Australian Christian Lobby & more.
The second, on Friday September 23 in Melbourne, features a range of academics and other policy makers. The theme for this one is ‘Religious freedom in an age of equality’. The keynote speaker is Father Frank Brennan. Other speakers include: Anne Robinson (Founding Partner ProLegis Sydney), Prof. Iain Benson (Notre Dame Law School Sydney), Mark Sneddon (Melbourne Bar), Prof. Patrick Parkinson (Sydney University Law School), Asssociate Prof. Patrick Quirk (Australian Catholic University Law School).
As I say, both look to be great events and would be good value for anyone interested in Law and Religion issues in Australia.
I am jointly organising a one-day conference co-sponsored by Freedom for Faith at Newcastle University on Friday 25 September 2015. All the details can now be found at the conference website: http://www.newcastle.edu.au/freedomforfaith . The day will bring together speakers from a range of areas of public life to discuss the important issues of religious freedom, including:
- Tim Wilson, Australian Human Rights Commissioner,
- The Right Rev Dr Peter Jensen, General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans,former Anglican Archbishop of Sydney;
- Dr Paul Taylor, International Law Advisor and Barrister;
- Dr Renae Barker, UWA School of Law and Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Muslim States and Societies;
- Dr Greg Walsh, from the University of Notre Dame Australia; and
There is also a flyer here which you should feel free to download and distribute as widely as possible! I hope that some of the readers of this blog may be able to join us on the day!