Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Freedom of Speech in Australia Submission
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Freedom of Speech in Australia Submission of the Australian Christian Churches and Freedom for Faith, November 2016
This submission is made jointly by the Australian Christian Churches and Freedom for Faith.
The Australian Christian Churches are one of the very largest denominations in Australia. It has 1,063 churches in Australia with 3,300 credentialed Ministers and 315,000 adherents.
Freedom for Faith is an organisation that was formed to educate the Christian church and members of the wider public on issues relating to freedom of religion in Australia. The board of Freedom for Faith includes leaders from the Anglican, Baptist, and Presbyterian Churches as well as the Australian Christian Churches. The association’s affiliate membership is made up of these and other faith-based organisations that share the aims and objectives of Freedom for Faith.By way of summary, our two organisations are primarily concerned with freedom of speech as it relates to religious matters; but the restrictions on speech created by a prohibition on “offence” on racial grounds provides a model which may also be applied to the area of speechconcerning issues of faith, morality or social policy. This is the case under the current law in Tasmania. Such restrictions on free speech were also proposed in an exposure draft of a Bill introduced by the federal government in 2012, but later withdrawn. These issues are discussed below. Because section 18C may provide a model for extendingprohibitions on the articulation of opinions that others find offensive, we support those who argue that section18C needs reform.