In a disturbing article published in The Epoch Times on 14 July, it was revealed that the West Australian government had a policy where it could refuse to lease entertainment venues to groups with alternative views to the government.
Notably, when the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) applied to hold the ceremony at the Albany Entertainment Center and Perth Concert Hall, the manager of venues at the Perth Theater Trust (PTT) denied the ACL’s request for this new Rely on the applicable policy.
The policy, which came into force a few days after the massive election victory of the Labor government of Mark McGowan, states that the Trust will reject applications “where the content of the event does not represent the views of the West Australian Government or the vast majority of Western Australians.” Australian.”
It is hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the right to the free exercise of religion, freedom of expression, and the principle that no person should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or political belief.
The policy covers content-based discrimination because the PTT must investigate the “content” of the applicant’s incident. It is also a mystery how the views of the “vast majority of Western Australians” can be traced with confidence.
This abominable behavior of ACL clearly violates Section 62 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA), which states that it is “unlawful for a person who … discriminates against any other person on political grounds. Conviction—(a) refusing … to make those facilities available to the other person.”
PTT’s reliance on this policy raises some troubling issues.
First, the rejection of the ACL’s application indicates that a political party – re-elected with a vast majority – may be inclined to disregard basic legitimate expectations of civil decency, and develop authoritarian tendencies that favor the people. abrogates the rights of those whose views are deemed to be inconsistent with the secular views of government.
Second, this shameful episode proves that human rights and equal opportunity laws are meaningless legislative documents, if even the government can violate them.
Certainly, if The Epoch Times article is a factual description of the incident, then the PTT’s denial of the ACL’s application represents a serious violation of people’s legislative rights to hold unrestricted religious or political views. In such a case, these laws equate to simply meaningless rhetoric and empty expressions of prejudice and prejudice, which, rather than prevent discrimination, promote and promote discrimination. Anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws should be taken off the statute books if governments can routinely violate them.
Third, the PTT’s actions are a reminder that freedom of religion is not safe in Australia. Section 116 of the Australian Constitution, which states that the Commonwealth “shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of any religion” does not apply to states.
In fact, as a result, this is how religion falls “Under the residuary power of the States and not within a specific head of Commonwealth power, the effect of section 116 is limited.”
Fourth, ACL’s behavior reflects the need for a Religious Discrimination Act, which would be binding on our secular leaders and respected by all. It has been widely reported that the current Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, intends to reintroduce the Religious Discrimination Bill later this year.
Personally, I have never been a supporter of legislation for rights, including freedom of religion, because if the government has the right to grant freedom of religion, it can easily take it away. Instead, freedom of religion should be seen as a natural right embedded in our judicial culture and political institutions.
However, the many attacks on religion and Christianity, documented so extensively in the press, may necessitate the adoption of such a law, even if it serves as a short-term panacea. In fact, the proposed legislation may be necessary to prevent vicious attacks on religion, which progressive activists often describe as “superstitious” and “unscientific”.
Fifth, I am currently reading a book on religious violence in Pakistan. It is a harrowing story, which brutally depicts how intolerance, prejudice, prejudice and ignorance can easily destroy a nation. This book tells what will happen to Australia if governments institutionalize religious intolerance. Is Australia slowly destroying itself by eroding many people’s rights to religious freedom and freedom of expression?
I am Perth based Prof. Augusto Zimmerman on a new book titled “The Rise of the Illliberal Elites: Critical Reflections on the Lucky Country.”
In it, we discuss the collapse of religious culture in Australia and the “common belief that reliance on ‘science’ will solve the ills and social problems of all people.” We comment that this development is reprehensible because “whenever science solves a problem, it points to the existence of other problems, challenges, and mysteries that it cannot solve by itself.”
We argue that “the fundamental values of our liberal tradition were exemplified, formulated and sculpted by Christianity as a way of life in the structure of our society.”
But, equally important, we argue that it is certainly not safe to assume that our democratic system of limited government and fundamental rights “as long as the belief and doctrine that gave rise to it are being deliberately attacked, Till then it will last.”
Indeed, historical evidence suggests, and common sense confirms, that the current denigration of Christianity and civil rights abuses, exemplified by PTT’s actions, is a foreshadowing of fairness and decency in a “lucky country”.
Gabriel A. Moens is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and has served as Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Law at Murdoch University. He has published a novel about the origin of the COVID-19 disease, “A Twisted Choice” and A short story, “The Greedy Prospector”, was recently published in the anthology of short stories, The Outback (Boolrong Press, 2021).
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.