Wentworth 2018: Candidate responses to ECAJ “Religious Freedom” question

[ The information below is drawn from the four linked J-Wire pages.  We have ordered the candidates alphabetically by surname. ]

In the interests of ensuring that our community is properly informed and engaged in the political process The Executive Council of Australian Jewry asked the four candidates currently polling at over 10% of the primary vote (as per the Reachtel poll published on 17 September), to state their positions on matters of special concern to Jewish Australians.

Religious Freedom

The same-sex marriage survey last year has led to claims that religious freedom is not adequately protected in Australia, and that religious institutions and organisations should have enhanced rights to discriminate in favour of members of their own faith, or to promote their own beliefs.

  1. Do you agree?

Licia Heath (Independent) [web site]

The same-sex marriage debate was about removing the state-supported discrimination that was enshrined in law (within the marriage act).  This had no impact on the rights of religious institutions to continue their faith-based practices in the existing manner including practice or promotion of their beliefs.

The Australian community, including the Wentworth community, strongly voiced its support of removing discrimination in Australian law and in civil practice.

To legislate in a manner that establishes, in law, a right to discriminate against a segment of the Australian community is against the majority of strongly held community sentiment and should not be supported.

Allowing a religious, or religiously-affiliated institution to discriminate against one minority group would open the door to other forms of discrimination that are against community values – such as religious discrimination.

If religious schools or institutions practice discrimination outside of the law, and outside of community standards, then they forfeit the right

Tim Murray (Australian Labor Party) [web site]

I am comfortable with the marriage equality legislation passed last year and the protections it provides.

Dr Kerryn Phelps (Independent) [web site]

I believe that all Australians should be free to practice their religion, provided that does not impinge on the rights or freedoms of others.

More than any other group, the Jewish community understands the consequences of discrimination on the basis of religion.

I do not believe in any form of discrimination.

At a time when their only worry should be whether they get their homework done in time, some children have to worry that they may be expelled from school because they are gay or transgender.
We know the consequences of marginalisation and rejection are serious and potentially fatal, with high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in children and young people who are rejected or lack social support if they think they are gay or transgender.

Schools should provide supportive environments for these children and young people.

I believe that religion and faith communities should provide comfort and protection for vulnerable young people, not be the source of distress and despair.

As a doctor I am deeply concerned that after the bruising marriage equality campaign, yet another debate about the personal lives of LGBTQI people will open those wounds again.

Dave Sharma (Liberal Party of Australia) [web site]

Wentworth is quite a progressive community. 80% voted for same-sex marriage, as I did.

I would be opposed to any new measures that impose forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, or anything else.

It is important to many, right across Australia, that people be free to choose their religion and express and practice their beliefs, without intimidation – so long as they practice their beliefs within the framework of the law.

The Government is considering the report of the expert panel chaired by Philip Ruddock, which received 15,000 submissions on this issue. I’m confident the Government will get the balance right.

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