The Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption, San Francisco. Photo: Elenie Poulos
The first paper out of my ongoing PhD research on the politics of religious freedom has just been published by the Australian Journal of Human Rights, 2018, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp 117-133. Here is the abstract:
Lacking a national comprehensive human rights charter or bill, Australia’s legal balancing act between competing human rights protections is captured in discrete pieces of anti-discrimination law. In 2012, the Australian Government released a draft bill consolidating these laws. Most churches roundly condemned this bill. With very few exceptions, the churches have a strong record of opposing progressive reform of Australia’s anti-discrimination protections. This paper examines the submissions made by churches to the parliamentary inquiry into the bill. The analysis demonstrates that most churches regarded the bill as a serious threat to both religious freedom and freedom of speech. In privileging religious freedom in a hierarchy of rights to be protected, the argument for religious freedom became the means by which churches sought to both protect their institutional position and entrench their particular moral code in Australian law.