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Religious Freedom Roundtable considers initiatives to advance rights and freedoms

Rights Rights and Freedoms

Representatives of religious and non-faith organisations have committed to an ongoing dialogue on rights and freedoms and consideration of a number of initiatives and actions to advance religious freedom.

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson announced the initiatives today in a summary of the inaugural Religious Freedom Roundtable, held on 5 November 2015.

“The Religious Freedom Roundtable provided an opportunity for religious and non-faith organisations to reassert the importance of religious freedom as part of the nation’s human rights discussion,” Commissioner Wilson said.

“The Roundtable was not convened to legitimise a reform program, rather to start a long-term, national conversation about religious freedom.

“Participating organisations have been invited to consider the merit and commitment of advancing these proposed initiatives with their representative bodies. Advancing these initiatives will be voluntary.”

The proposed initiatives and actions include:

  • An initiative to improve religious literacy within government and the public service to ensure religious freedom is appropriately considered in legislative and regulatory reform, or governmental processes.
  • An initiative to develop a model for self-regulation for religious institutions that receive taxpayer’s funding for the provision of public services.
  • A long-term discussion with all affected stakeholders – focusing on the common ground between differing perspectives – about how to ensure the rights and freedoms of all are advanced, including that religious freedom is preserved in anti-discrimination law.
  • Future meetings of the Roundtable consider the perspectives of atheists, humanists, rationalists and secularists, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities; and consider issues regarding the rights of children and the spirituality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • An opt-in model approach to coordinate and discuss: reform proposals that would allow for civil marriage for same-sex couples and the preservation of religious liberty; visitor programs for schools to educate students about different faith traditions and those without religious belief; and universal values as an umbrella under which all faiths and non-faiths can abide.

Commissioner Wilson said the Roundtable provided a forum for constructive, respectful and trust-based dialogue with 25 religious and non-faith organisations.|

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