Ensure that the rights & freedoms of all Australians are equally protected.
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The Review into Protection of Religious Freedoms commissione by Prime Minister Turnbull & conducted by Mr Philip Ruddock is due to be completed by 31 March.
The time for direct submissions has now expired but in the remaining 5 weeks there is still time for the community to make its collective feelings known.
Freedom of Religion already has significant protection in Australia but many of those who opposed the legalisation of Same Sex Marriage argued that this would interfere with the rights of churches and their representatives. In many cases their argument was and is based on an unwillingness to accept that non-heterosexual individuals are entitled to the same freedoms under the law as are heterosexuals.
We don't yet know what recommendations will be made by the Ruddock Review but we do know that many churches and their supporters, as well as traditionalists, or those unable to accept gender differences, will have made submissions to the review that, if accepted, will allow continued discrimination against the LGBTQI community.
A Church has every right to make religious decisions according to its particular dogma and beliefs about spiritual matters. However, Australia is a secular state, not a theocratic one, and marriage is a civil right endorses by our law. No Church should be allowed to discriminate in what is a civil right of all citizens of this nation. Discrimination of the grounds of gender, sexuality, race, or religion should not be allowed to any group.
Freedom of Religion is a right of all citizens in this nation and is NOT threatened in any way by the righting of the inequity that barred non-heterosexuals from marrying. The freedoms that are guaranteed to our citizens should be protected on an equal basis and have equal standing under the law. Only in exceptional circumstances should someone be denied those guaranteed freedoms. At the same time, no particular group in society should be above the authority of our Constitution and Parliament such that they have an unequal privilege that allows them to discrimate against a person's civil rights simply because that group disagrees with that right.
The current Review into the Protection of Religious Freedoms has the potential to introduce new and legally endorsed permission for churches or their representatives to discriminate on the basis of a person's characteristics or proclivities. This should be unacceptable in a modern, secular, democracy.
Non-heterosexual people have long suffered discrimination and are only now beginning to be treated with anything approaching equality. The approval of Same Sex Marriage was a major step forward and long overdue. It would be terribly sad to see that progress countered by a regressive move to exempt Churches from having to respect that change in our laws.
Malcolm Turnbull and his government can ensure that such regression doesn't occur. They ought to set the model for the community and ensure that our secular society is not weakened by allowing religious bodies to decide civil matters.
I came to Australia, freely and of my own choice, believing and finding it to be a relatively open, peaceful and harmonious community with predominantly good laws and a fair and just society for all. I would like to believe that the majority of people in this nation wish it to continue that way.
Many religious people and some Churches have shown their willingness to come together with the LGBQTI community. Equally, many LGBQTI individuals are of faith and want to be blessed by their churches for who they were born to be. Isn't that coming together a positive way forward for everyone?
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Government can ensure that equity is maintained by passing legislation which does not allow discrimination by any organiation, religious or otherwise, against any group or individual in society, particularly where that person or group has a right of freedom under the law to pursue a certain action.
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