LGBTI advocates concerned by new Philip Ruddock appointee

LGBTI advocates have expressed concern about the latest appointee to the religious freedom review of the recent changes to the Marriage Act, headed by former Abbott Government Attorney General Philip Ruddock.

Philip Ruddock, the Howard Government minister who introduced the bill in 2004 that excluded same-sex couples from marriage in Australia, has been a controversial choice for the review into legal protections for religious expression under the new marriage laws.

Advocates are also critical of the placement of Nicholas Aroney to the review, due to his advocacy for religious freedom as a non-derogable or unlimited right.

just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome says his concerns stem from Aroney’s writings on freedom, including his 2012 essay on Sharia law in Western legal systems.

“I am concerned by Nicholas Aroney’s appointment because his writing makes it clear he believes religious freedom trumps other rights, including equality,” Croome said.

“His support for Sharia law, even in a limited form, is of deep concern given its association with extreme punishments for homosexuality.

Croome says Aroney’s views on religious freedom fly in the face of international law.

“I’m particularly disappointed that the government has appointed Mr Aroney while ignoring just.equal’s call for an LGBTI community representative on the panel.”

“The Ruddock Review should be a balanced assessment of religious freedom, but instead the government is stacking the review to appease religious conservatives after the passage of marriage equality.”

Others undertaking the review include Human Rights Commission President Rosalind Croucher, Annabelle Bennett and and ‘Yes’ campaign supporter Father Frank Brennan.

The review will take preliminary submissions until January 31 2018, with the final report due on March 31.

OIP Staff

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