ACBC and the Religious Freedom Review

15 Feb 2018

Summary of the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference Submission to the RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REVIEW

Australia has been successful as a pluralist society because it has been able to accommodate a range of viewpoints. It has also been able to accommodate a diversity of races, cultures and religions. The Religious Freedom Review is a timely opportunity to consider whether Australia’s laws need to be updated to ensure we continue to enjoy freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the associated freedom of association.

The ACBC argues there are three key opportunities to reform Australia’s laws to bettersupport freedom of religion and belief:

  1. A general limitations clause to address the concern that religious freedom is only ever expressed by way of exception or exemption, rather than as a right. This would operate in addition to the existing express exceptions and exemptions in anti-discrimination laws, which have the benefit of established acceptance and meaning

  2. To clarify religious freedom protection offered to religious bodies so they cannot be compelled to allow Church property to be used for purposes which do not accord with their beliefs, and

  3. Amending existing legislation that restricts freedom of conscience, especially for those engaged in medical practice.

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