Trans Health Australia Submission to Ruddock Review

Religious freedom is best guaranteed by a strong non sectarian secular state

Australia has had a long, albeit flawed, history of defending religious freedom, with it being a fundamental part of the Australian Constitution. In common with many countries the consensus is that religious freedom is best guaranteed by a strong non sectarian secular state, that the right to worship, observance, having places of worship and religious theology by any religious group are free from discrimination and oppression by other religious or political groups as long they do not advocate or undertake discrimination against or oppression of other societal groups or any illegal activities. This also includes the right to not follow any particular religion or theology without suffering any discrimination. This is consistent with Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This implies a social compact between religions and society at large, that in return for their existence and freedom being guaranteed they may not attack, oppress or discriminate against those others who do not follow their particular theology, or undertake any illegal activities.

This freedom is already excessive, being misused against the majority of Australians who are further under threat in Australia from several major religious organisations, a small number of radical right wing extremists who have infiltrated religious denominations and various politically religious front groups, as well as foreign funded and supported religious related organisations.

This is despite a 2016 survey showing that 78% of Australians want a clear separation between religion and government.

Currently discrimination by religious organisations in healthcare, education, employment agencies, provision of many social services and other commercial organisations, is currently allowed due to exemptions in Federal and State antidiscrimination laws

These people and organisations advocate for the dominance of their particular theologies and ideologies and that they be forced onto their own followers who disagree with such, the majority of people who are not members and all those who do not follow or agree with their particular religious’ beliefs.

Thus they are breaking the social compact by imposing their theologies on other groups and overall society.

They are also advocating for this to be expanded, to allow them to impose their beliefs on people who follow other religions, non religious people, whole sections of society that span all beliefs, and even their own followers who disagree or have different interpretation of their theology, albeit without following such beliefs themselves.

Collectively they are commonly labelled in Australia as the ‘religious right’ within the broad grouping of Christian communities and organisations, or ‘Islamic extremism’ within the Muslim community. Section 2 identifies and describes such organisations.

This threatens the social harmony, stability and even the national security of Australia.

There is also strong evidence that the multiple Federal, State and local authority tax and rate exemptions, as well as payments to deliver social services are being misused.

That over and above delivering such services religious dogma is being imposed by discriminating against individuals or whole groups on the basis of gender, perceived sexual status, marital status, sexuality, religious beliefs and even ethnic background. That such exemptions and payments are also discriminatory against commercial businesses who cannot compete on a level playing field, who may be able to deliver such services more efficiently and competitively, but are crowded out of the marketplace.


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About the author

Lisa Mullin is a transgender woman and activist who has closely followed LGBTI events in the US and UK. As a follower and correspondent with US trans activists (such as Brynn Tannehill, Cristin Williams, Monika Roberts, etc) she has watched the US religious right's current tactics and strategy develop and be applied from when it was first successfully trialed in Houston in 2015, completely outmaneuvering the major US LG lobbying and legal groups. The exact same tactics and strategies are now being applied against LGBTI people in Australia.