Michael Kirby warns against excessive religious freedom protections

Michael Kirby

Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby has shared his thoughts on the prospect of the government bringing in new religious freedom laws, saying excessive protections could diminish the rights of non-believers and minorities.

Speaking to The Guardian Kirby said the right to practice religion must be “accorded in a way that respects others’ rights in the community – including the rights of non-believers and minorities who are sometimes on the receiving end of animosity or prejudice from religious people”.

His comments come ahead of the release of a report from The Rationalist Society which challenges the often quoted figures from the national census, which report 60% of Australians have an affiliation with a religion.

The report highlights that when people are asked for greater detail on their religious convictions a greater number (62%) report that they do not belong to a religious organisation, or consider religion to be personally important to them.  The new reports suggests that just 15% of Australians are active members of a religious organisation.

Michael Kirby’s follow new Attorney General Michaelia Cash confirming that the government is going to take another run at attempting to introduce new laws which protect religious freedom. The proposed legislation has already been through two drafts before being put on the back-burner following a swathe of criticism.

This weekend religious lobby group Faith for Freedom is declaring ‘Religious Freedom Weekend’ and campaigning through churches to encourage members of congregations to write to politicians demanding the proposed legislation be implemented.

OIP Staff

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